George at Asda has installed webcams in two of its factories in Bangladesh as part of its wider drive to improve transparency across the business.
The webcams show factory staff working on fabrics and in the testing labs. It is part of Asda chief executive Andy Bond’s strategy to create the first genuinely transparent business, which he announced in October last year.
At the launch, webcams were installed at a carrot factory and dairy farm. The grocer has now added its “Clothingcam” and plans to roll out to more factories later this year.
George head of quality and ethics Paul Wright said: “When Bond launched Carrotcam and Cowcam last October, we got some feedback from customers requesting a behind the scenes look at what happens in the factories we source George from.
“Customers were really interested to see who makes the clothes they buy in George. It isn’t something they would have time to watch all day, but appreciate they can if they want to and they know that nothing in our business is out of bounds.”
Wright said George has encountered some challenges in installing the webcams as it is not culturally acceptable to film women, “so we can only place the cameras in the areas that men work”. He added that there are also a lot of technical difficulties and “the factories we use are also shared by other UK retailers and so we focus on the production lines and quality-testing areas specifically set up for George product”.
George sources from 40 factories in Bangladesh and 500 globally. The next webcam will be installed in a factory in Turkey.
Wright said it took factory owners “a little while” to understand the concept but “now they realise they are a key aspect of encouraging greater customer involvement through opening up parts of the business that haven’t been seen publicly before”.
He added: “They can showcase the standards of their factories and dispel a few myths about how factories abroad are run.”