Factory owner: I didn't know fire exits needed

By Julhas Alam

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Nov. 29 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

An Associated Press reporter at the factory discovered children's shorts with Wal-Mart's Faded Glory label, hooded sweat shirts emblazoned with Disney cartoons, shorts with hip-hop star Sean Combs' ENYCE tag, and sweaters from the French company Teddy Smith and the Scottish company Edinburgh Woollen Mill. Sears was among the companies listed in the account books.

Wal-Mart said it received a safety audit that showed the factory was "high-risk" and had decided well before the blaze to stop doing business with Tazreen. But it said a supplier had continued to use Tazreen without authorization. The retailer said it stopped doing business with the supplier Monday.

Sears said it learned after the blaze that its merchandise was being produced there without its approval through a vendor that has since been fired. Walt Disney Co., which licenses its characters to clothing makers, said its records indicate that none of its licensees have been permitted to make Disney-brand products at the factory for at least a year.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association fears the repercussions if Western companies pull out of the country's $20 billion a year garment business. Wal-Mart alone buys about $1 billion of garments here.

"It's the time of solidarity, not to go away. Wal-Mart should come forward to resolve existing issues through discussion and an attitude of partnership," said Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of the trade group. "Otherwise, what will happen? Manufacturers would lose orders, workers will lose their jobs. This could create another complicated situation. For whose interest? None will benefit from it."

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