Retailers not trusted after Gap scandal

Almost half of all consumers do not trust retailers to audit their own supply chains, in the wake of the Gap child-­labour story unearthed by The Observer in October.

A survey commissioned by PRWeek found that 41 per cent do not trust any retailer to perform this task, while 44 per cent only trust certain ­retailers.

The survey also found that while 41 per cent believe the quality of Gap clothes is good or excellent, only 18 per cent apply this rating to the brand’s value for money and just 12 per cent deem Gap’s ethical stance as good or ­excellent.

This is despite a media rel-ations onslaught by Gap and its agency Brunswick in the wake of the revelation.

The retailer has pointed to what it claims are its stringent ethical policies and its eagerness to learn from what it termed the ‘embarrassing episode’ that occurred when a supplier’s sub-contractor arranged for a factory using child labour to work on emb-roidery for the store.

‘What happened here was without the knowledge or approval of Gap or, we believe, of the [supplier],’ said Gap’s San Francisco-based vice president of corporate comms Bill Chandler in a summary of the investigation’s findings. ‘Nonetheless, we hold ourselves and our [supplier] fully accountable.’

Last week, Chandler announced plans to set up a global industry forum to discuss how the retail industry can improve its ethical record on sourcing from the Third World. Gap has also pledged $200,000 to improve working conditions in India and is setting up an independent auditing system for the production of embroidery and other speciality  work.

The online poll of 1,093 people was conducted by Opinion Matters between 1 and 6 November.

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