H&M slams claims of ‘low’ Cambodian wages

After an investigative Swedish TV programme claimed H&M paid “low” factory wages in Cambodia, the clothing giant has blasted the show and the claims, explaining that they are in fact working hard to raise local salaries.

H&M slams claims of 'low' Cambodian wages

“We don’t recognize our image reflected in these complaints,” said Camilla Emilsson Falk, H&M’s spokeperson to the Aftonbladet newspaper.

“We also want the wages to be raised, and we’re working hard to promote wages increasing in several countries, including Cambodia, among others.”

H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson also defended the company’s practices.

“We are working with one of the world’s leading experts on salaries in countries like Cambodia. We want the salaries to be raised,” he told the Expressen newspaper.

“Furthermore, I was in Bangladesh myself recently and visited the prime minister where I put forward our demands that the wages are raised and that they’re increased annually.”

The programme, Kalla Fakta (The Cold Facts), will be aired on Wednesday night in Sweden and makes claims that factory workers are only paid 3 kronor ($0.45) an hour and have suffered from mass faintings due to overcrowding and poor factory conditions.

“We want to be open and we had invited TV4 to the factory, so it’s not correct to say that we tried to prevent the team from visiting. On the contrary, it was us who helped TV4 to gain access to the factory,” he said.

Persson also slammed Kalla Fakta for what he perceived as its one-sided reporting.

“In my experience, I know that it is an unbalanced programme that is very biased, and I think it may be biased this time too,” he said.

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H&M competitor to sponsor Sweden’s Olympic team

Six months after establishing itself in Stockholm, Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo has announced it will sponsor Sweden’s athletes at the 2020 Olympics.

H&M competitor to sponsor Sweden's Olympic team
Anna Hasselborg of Sweden's curling team tries out new kit supplied for the country's athletes by Uniqlo. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

The clothing chain, one of the world’s fastest-growing retail companies, is also set to open more stores in the Scandinavian country.

“Swedes are so sophisticated and warm-hearted,” Uniqlo Europe CEO Taku Morikawa said, stressing how welcome his company has been made to feel.

Morikawa was in Sweden to present the partnership between Uniqlo and the Swedish Olympic Committee at an event at Uniqlo’s store on Hamngatan in Stockholm.

Sweden’s athletes wore teamwear supplied by H&M at the last two Olympic Games.

The Stockholm store, Uniqlo’s first in the Nordic region, opened its doors in August 2018. An expansion is now planned on the Swedish market, although Morikawa declined to reveal where.

“We definitely have plans to open more stores here,” he said.

A store will also open in Danish capital Copenhagen in the coming spring as Uniqlo’s holding company Fast Retailing continues its global expansion.

Sales figures in Sweden’s clothing retail sector have seen a downward trend in recent years, with an exception in 2015.

H&M is usually cited as one of Uniqlo’s main competitors.

The impact of a new player on an already-competitive market is difficult to predict, according to the Swedish Trade Federation (Svensk Handel).

“Locally, competition is sharpened, but competition is already fierce. I would be inclined to say that this type of partly new concept store can, instead, help to revitalise the physical retail sector for clothing,” the association’s head economist Johan Davidson said.  

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