Fast Retailing signs Europe-led Bangladesh fire and safety accord

Wed Aug 7, 2013 10:49pm EDT
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TOKYO (Reuters) - Fast Retailing Co Ltd 9983.T, Asia's biggest retailer and operator of the Uniqlo clothing chain, said on Thursday it had signed a Europe-led safety pact for Bangladesh garment factories after a building collapse in April killed more than 1,100 people.

A spokesman for the Japanese firm said the company had taken several months to join the accord - already signed by European clothing companies H&M (HMb.ST: Quote) and Zara operator Inditex SA (ITX.MC: Quote) - because it wanted to thoroughly consider the pact's conditions.

"Our reason is quite simple - our priority is to work across the industry to improve conditions for the workers in Bangladesh, so we just wanted to join in," said Aldo Liquori, a spokesman for the firm in Tokyo.

Fast Retailing's clothes were not being manufactured in the factory that collapsed on April 24 but the company said it had also completed an investigation into its subcontractors' factories in Bangladesh.

Several firms have decided not to sign the pact and instead adopt their own initiatives to tighten safety and improve worker conditions in the country, including U.S. firms Wal-mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: Quote), Gap Inc (GPS.N: Quote) and Target Corp (TGT.N: Quote).

(Reporting by Sophie Knight; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

Rescue workers attempt to rescue garment workers from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building, in Savar, 30 km (19 miles) outside Dhaka April 28, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer