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ISTANBUL – Turkey’s leading textile trade body has called on global brands to stand in unity with their strategic clothing suppliers. Turkey as a clothing production hub is of huge strategic importance to the European Union, however, suppliers there have faced similar challenges to their South Asian counterparts in terms of cancelled orders and rampant discounting.

Bulent Alkanli of the Turkish Clothing Manufacturers Association said hat the actions of brands have severely harmed Turkey’s garment manufacturing industry which employs over 1.5 million people.

He said: “According to the hundreds of messages expressing concerns and complaints directed at ‘TGSD Coronavirus Help Desk’ over the past four weeks, suppliers have drawn attention to some alarming actions taken by global brands and retailers.

“A large number of brands declared to the manufacturers that there will be no future orders until further notice. This will oblige manufacturers to cover labour and overhead costs on their own for an indeterminate period of time. Some brands called for the suspension of production in the pipeline and yet in some rare cases, solicited discounts or cancellations for goods that are in the pipeline. Lastly, some brands request an extension on the payment terms for shipped goods that are on their way to distribution centres or already in the stores.  

“A halt in high-volume production at the beginning of the season means that large quantity orders are creating massive inventories for the factories. Along with the inventory cost, manufacturers bear full liability for materials nominated by brands on their own, which constitutes an existential threat to companies most of which operate within one-digit margins. If brands do not help their suppliers finance the minimum liabilities, suppliers will not be able pay their employees’ salaries and secure their livelihood.

“It is known that retail businesses firmly uphold ‘workers’ rights’ at all times and claim ‘integrity’, “trust”, ‘commitment’ and ‘sustainability’ to be sine qua non for their operations. Failing to recognise, own and act on their own share of responsibility would mean contradicting their established ‘core corporate values’.

“Businesses should remember that once the pandemic is over, they will be looking for long-term strategic partnerships that are kept intact; and true partnerships are those that yield long term benefits for decades to come.”

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