Retail news from around the globe

Fashion index calls for more disclosure

Fashion Revolution, the index that ranks the world’s largest fashion brands according to how much they disclose about their social and environmental policies, has called for greater transparency and clearer communication with all stakeholders in the industry.

Out of the 200 brands ranked by the index, H&M was deemed the most transparent, with a 73 per cent score out of a possible 250 points. It was followed by C&A with 70 per cent and Adidas and Reebok with 69 per cent.

Going forward, the index called for all fashion brands to practice a clearer disclosure of suppliers, beginning with the first tier and continuing down to the raw materials.

It also said that there should be more information published about brands’ environmental impacts, including the amount of carbon emissions, water consumption, pollution and waste created, as well as what is being done to address these concerns.

And finally, Fashion Revolution urged brands to answer customer questions on social media or email with practical information.

Singapore fights resurgent virus

As COVID-19 surges back in Singapore, the government has extended its “circuit-breaker” legislation for another four weeks and put in place stronger lockdown measures, reducing the number of businesses that can be seen as essential, Singapore’s CNA website reports.

Most coffeeshops, snack bars and vending machines will be closed by the new regulations. Other businesses, such as pet supply companies, optical shops and laundries, face more restrictions, the aim being to keep as many people as possible from having to travel to work.

Supermarkets and “wet markets” remain open. Singapore has seen more than 9000 cases of COVID-19, with more than 1100 new cases reporting on April 21.

Buyer seeks exit from Victoria’s Secret deal

Private equity firm Sycamore Partners is looking to back out of its deal to take over Victoria’s Secret from L Brands, saying in a legal filing that L Brands’ decision to close its stores and skip rent payments violates the terms of the agreement, CNBC reports.

The deal for the US lingerie brand to be taken private was reached in February, when L Brands ceded a 55 per cent share to Sycamore for US$525 million. However, this was before the coronavirus pandemic started hammering the US and global economies and forcing the closure of thousands of stores.

The terms of the transaction allowed for the possibility of a pandemic triggering a “material adverse effect” clause, CNBC reports. These are typically included in deals to allow a buyer an opportunity to renegotiate should extraordinary events impact business.

L Brands has declared it will fight this. The suit is filed in the US state of Delaware.

Lululemon fires worker over ‘bat’ T-shirt

Canadian athletic apparel company Lululemon has fired an art director for designing a T-shirt deemed racist following a flood of complaints worldwide, the New York Times reports.

The T-shirt featured a small red image of chopsticks with bat wings on the front, and a larger design of a Chinese rice box with bat wings and the words “No thank you” written on it on the back. “No thank you” also appeared on the right sleeve.

After the employee posted the design, in the bio section of his personal Instagram account, waves of online condemnation followed, and he was quickly fired. By a Reuters count, more than 1000 comments were left on Lululemon’s official Instagram account criticising the company for post.

Lululemon apologised to its customers for the post, even making a separate statement on Chinese social media platform Weixin.

The coronavirus is thought to have originated with bats, jumping from bats to humans in a wet market in Wuhan, China.

Bezos rolls up his sleeves

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has resumed day-to-day management of the company, turning back to the “here-and-now problems” facing the retail giant during global lockdowns, Business Insider reports.

 Among the pressing challenges are the disruption of Amazon’s supply chain by COVID-19 and a backlash from workers at its warehouses. Workers are seeking better protective equipment, more time to clean and better provisions for sick pay.

 In recent years, Bezos had outsourced the bulk of everyday decision-making to his deputies, instead focusing on major projects such as the development of voice assistant Alexa and the cashierless Amazon Go stores.

 Bezos is now said to be holding daily calls about inventory and testing, as well as helping make decisions about how Amazon responds to public criticism.

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