At Primark, suppliers and factories commit to make our products in factories with good working conditions so that people are treated decently and paid a fair wage. We do not own factories and are very selective about who we work with. We place orders with factories and suppliers who manufacture products on our behalf. In fact, 98% of the factories making products for Primark also manufacture for other brands. This means orders for Primark are produced alongside items for other well-known brands.
To make it onto Primark’s approved factory list, each factory is vetted to internationally-recognised standards set out in the Primark Code of Conduct. The Code covers areas such as pay, employment policies and health and safety.
Once approved, it’s the job of our Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability Team, a group of more than 100 experts based in key sourcing countries, to monitor compliance. They audit every factory at least once a year, sometimes more, to check whether international standards are being met.
But Primark’s Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability Team does more than that. We believe that the more factory management and workers know about the standards we expect and why they matter, the more likely they are to meet them. We’ve also found that in some factories, certain workplace processes and systems are not being used to their full potential. Like specific HR processes for example. That’s why our Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability Team work hand in hand with suppliers, their factories and local partners to deliver training and programmes that help factories address locally-relevant issues and needs.
Mohan is a factory worker in Delhi, India. He has worked at one of the factories supplying Primark for over a year. Mohan’s wife also works in a garment factory. They split family responsibilities between them.
"I am not looking to do lots of over-time because I want to spend time with my children. I like the work/life balance here. In the evenings, I help my children with their homework and shop for groceries. My wife does the cooking."
Sanno is responsible for HR in one of the factories in India that makes Primark clothes. This factory was one of many that took part in the Benefits for Business and Workers programme. The programme delivered HR and productivity training to managers like Sanno to help them introduce new HR processes that benefit workers.
The Primark Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability Team carries out more than 2,500 audits a year in the factories making our products. Audits allow us to get a detailed picture of what conditions are like inside both new and approved factories. Our audits cover all parts of the factory, and all workers. They’re vital in allowing us to check whether internationally-recognised standards are being met.
At Primark we are often asked where our products are made. So, we decided to let people see for themselves. In 2016, we created a virtual reality film of a pair of Primark trousers being made in a factory in Bangladesh. The 360º video follows production, from the cutting and sewing of material, to the labelling and pressing of the final product ready for shipping to our stores. Click to view the video.
At Primark, we believe we can help improve conditions in the garment industry by working with others. One organisation we partner with is Business for Social Responsibility. Together we deliver the HERhealth programme – an initiative designed to support female factory workers to look after their health. Covering topics including personal hygiene and sexual health, the programme has reached more than 20,000 women.