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LONDON – A denim manufacturer from Bangladesh has taken to social media to express his despair at being unable to pay his 2,000 staff bonuses for the upcoming Eid festival. Mostafiz Uddin, owner and managing director at Chittagong-based Denim Expert, is owed around US$10m from a number of clients which include UK-based retailers Arcadia and Peacocks.

However, he says customers have long-since stopped returning his calls and his factory remains full of inventory which it has no hope of shifting. “I have no money to pay [my staff] bonuses as my customers are not paying me since February,” he says. “My factory is now full of inventory! The condition of all my fellow apparel manufacturers around the world [is] more or less same.”

Uddin has struggled hugely with cashflow issues since Covid-19 set in, like many of his contemporaries. His situation has been made worse by the refusal of many retailers to pay for stock they have ordered.

Uddin’s situation is particularly alarming as he has been one of the few suppliers from Bangladesh willing to talk up on the issue of sustainability in recent years. His factory has invested millions of dollars on the latest water harvesting and energy-saving techniques in line with customer demands for cleaner production methods.

He has also been a high-profile speaker at numerous industry events and conferences. He spoke at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in 2018 and received huge praise for bringing to the fore issues in supply chains. Despite his popularity there, where he provided suppliers around the world with a rare voice on the global stage, he was never invited back.

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