Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) has made a complaint to the BBC over what it said are ‘unqualified’ claims made in Monday’s Panorama.
The show alleged that garments for the retailer were produced at a Bangladesh factory where more than 100 people died in a fire, and that the retailer failed to pay compensation.
EWM said it was “very disappointed and aggrieved” at the allegations.
The retailer said: “EWM has not manufactured the products suggested on Panorama and has evidence to prove unequivocally that those garments displayed were never manufactured in the Tazreen factory.”
Polo shirts bearing the EWM label were pictured at the Tazreen factory, which was used by retailers including Walmart and C&A, according to Panorama.
EWM told Panorama that the clothes featured were made “elsewhere” and then scattered in the factory to implicate it after the fire.
The programme showed documents apparently stamped with the EWM logo and stating product numbers.
EWM told Retail Week it has contacted trade union IndustriALL to offer financial assistance as “a goodwill gesture” and to find out more about the Bangladesh Safety Accord.
It is not the first time Panorama has drawn complaints from retailers. The BBC was forced to issue an apology to Primark in 2011 after an inquiry revealed that the broadcaster used faked imagery of child labour in a Panorama expose.
Edinburgh Woollen Mill Statement
In light of what was shown in the BBC Programme Panaroma on Monday 23rd September in the documentary “Dying for a Bargain”, The Edinburgh Woollen Mill would like to state that it has for some weeks been in dialogue with IndustriALL, who are behind the Bangladesh Accord and in fact the Steering Committee of the Bangladesh Accord are presenting its strategy to The Edinburgh Woollen Mill in early October.
The Edinburgh Woollen Mill was never approached by IndustriALL in relation to the Bangladesh Accord and in fact The Edinburgh Woollen Mill has instigated this presentation to take place.
The Edinburgh Woollen Mill has so far been unable to sign up to the Accord due to there being a number of open ended legal points within the agreement which we are hoping will be clarified in the presentation in early October.
The Edinburgh Woollen Mill has not manufactured the products suggested by the BBC on the Panorama TV Programme “Dying for a Bargain” and has evidence to prove unequivocally that those garments displayed were never manufactured in the Tazreen factory. In addition to this, the Tazreen factory was never equipped to be able to produce the garments displayed in the programme.
The Company is very disappointed and aggrieved by the unqualified comments made by the BBC. The Edinburgh Woollen Mill had been in communication with Joseph McAuley, the Producer, BBC Panorama for several weeks and never at any stage was The Edinburgh Woollen Mill asked for evidence that the garments were manufactured in another factory other than the Tazreen factory. We are in communication with the Office of Complaints within the BBC regarding this matter.
The Edinburgh Woollen Mill would also like to state that the statements given by Sam Maher from Labour Behind The Label were incorrect and in fact untrue.
The Edinburgh Woollen Mill has been in communication and had in fact made an offer of financial assistance to Jyrki Raina of IndustriALL of which Sam Maher of Labour Behind The Label was fully aware. Sam Maher failed to mention this within the Panorama Programme last night.
The Edinburgh Woollen Mill feels very strongly about the above points, but quite simply cannot admit to something that we have not done.
The Edinburgh Woollen Mill is active in improving all working conditions for all people who work within the clothing industry in Bangladesh and will apply pressure onto factory owners, agents and local authorities in Bangladesh to improve the environment for all these workers and their families.