An eight story building housing garment factories near the Bangladeshi capital collapsed Wednesday, killing at least 161 people. The disaster, just five months after a garment factory fire killed 112 people, has drawn renewed attention to the notoriously unsafe conditions in Bangladesh’s $20 billion clothing industry that supplies retailers around the world. The disasters also highlight failings in the retail industry’s system of factory audits that are meant to ensure unsafe factories are not used.
Here’s a look at the factories in the building and the global retailers they say they were working for.
— Ether Tex was located on the 5th floor of the Rana Plaza building that collapsed. Its website, which is now offline, says its 530 workers made up to 960,000 pieces of clothing a year. It claimed to have a passing grade for safety and other business standards from SOCAM, a group that audits garment factories on behalf of European fashion company C&A. The company said its customers included retail giant Wal-Mart.
— New Wave is a group of three companies that says it makes shirts, pants and other garments for U.S., Canadian and European retailers. Two of the companies in the group, New Wave Bottoms and New Wave Style were located, respectively, on the second and the 6th and 7th floors of the collapsed building. The New Wave website lists 27 retailers as its main customers. The list includes Spain’s Mango, Dress Barn of the U.S., Canada’s The Children’s Place, and the Asian arm of Benetton based in Hong Kong.
— Phantom Apparels operated a garment factory called Phantom-TAC in conjunction with Spain’s Textile Audit Company on the 4th floor of the collapsed building. The Phantom-TAC website says it is “committed to reaching a high standard of working conditions.” It claimed to have a comprehensive auditing system that allowed it to “monitor and analyze daily the conditions in our factory.” The 20,000 square foot factory could make up to 3 million garments a year. It does not list its customers.
— None of the factory owners have been contactable despite repeated attempts to reach them.
— Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, says it is investigating whether any of the factories in the building were producing garments for it at the time of the collapse.
— Primark, a British retailer which has more than 250 stores across the U.K. and Europe, says it was being supplied by a garment producer on the building’s second floor.
— The Children’s Place used one of the garment factories in the building but said it wasn’t being supplied by it at the time of the collapse.
— Dress Barn said it hadn’t used garment factories at the building since 2010.
— Benetton said none of the factories were its suppliers.
— Mango said it hadn’t bought clothing from Rana Plaza factories but said it had been in talks with one factory to produce a test batch of clothing.
AT THE DISASTER
— An Associated Press reporter found the following clothing brands in the rubble: Saddlebred, Easycare Oxford, Next, Tweeti.com, LcWaikiki.
— Charles Kernaghan, executive director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, which has an office in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka, says his staff is investigating. “You can’t trust many buildings in Bangladesh,” Kernaghan said. “It’s so corrupt that you can buy off anybody and there won’t be any retribution.”