Tesco will invest £1m to support safety improvements across the Bangladesh garment industry in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse.
The grocer, which has given its backing to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety joining retailers including M&S, Primark, Inditex H&M, and N Brown, said the funding is likely to be spent on subsidising training for worker representatives and managers on how to effectively operate worker safety committees.
It will also provide training for internationally qualified fire and structural safety engineers and will provide interest free loans to its suppliers to support any infrastructure improvements which might be needed.
Tesco group commercial director Kevin Grace said: “Tesco did not use factories in the Rana Plaza building, but we are all responsible for ensuring we prevent another tragedy.
“These are not the sum total of what we can achieve, they are the practical things we can do now, on our own and with others. We hope that discussions on how the Accord should be implemented will enable us all to go further. In the meantime we will continue working hard with our own supply base to make a difference today.”
The Rana Plaza building, which housed five clothing factories that supplied retailers including Primark and Bonmarché, collapsed on April 24. It was the fourth fatal factory accident in Bangladesh in the past eight years.
It is understood the building owner had approval to construct a five-floor building but added an extra three storeys.
Tesco will conduct structural surveys for all the factories it sources from over the next four months to ensure they are sound and will suspend any factory it has concerns about and provide them with support to address them. It has pledged to stop using factories if they fail to take sufficient action, as they have with 15 factories in the past year.
It is also using the same approach with fire safety using the standard it has developed. The grocery giant is also recruiting a full time international safety expert based in Bangladesh.
The grocer has also vowed to only work with suppliers whose factories meet acceptable standards, even if it only sources from one of their factories.
Tesco said it will publish a list of all of its Bangladesh factories online from June so customers know exactly who it works with. It will also share the results of its structural and fire safety reviews with workers, other retailers and unions.
Espirito Santo analyst Caroline Gulliver said: “We believe this Bangladesh tragedy has increased the pressure over Western retailers to have a closer relationship with their Far Eastern suppliers to ensure that the pressure to keep procurement costs as low as possible does not lead to a relaxation of security safety procedures. At the margin we expect sourcing costs to increase as a result.”