Fashion billionaire tycoon Anders Holch Povlsen has been criticized by fair trade campaigners after he blamed the lock for delay in his company paying suppliers.
Povlsen – the largest private landowner in Scotland – was warned that a move by the Bestseller clothing group would adversely affect young female workers who make their clothes.
The entrepreneur, who owns more than 221,000 hectares in 12 estates in the Highlands, inherited the company from his parents and is the largest shareholder in the online giant Asos.
47 years – estimated to be worth nearly £ 5 billion – sent a letter to suppliers asking them to “share the burden” with Bestseller from the fall Covid-19 plague.
He indicated the company wanted to negotiate a “payment scheme”, “talk” about the price of spring orders and reduce the size of autumn shipments.
Povlsen writes: “The bestseller will, for the first time in the history of our company, make a big loss.
“We will do our best to fulfill our commitments that we have made for you for clothing that has already been produced and goods in production.
“But to be able to do this we will, for the first time, have to ask for a payment scheme, talk about free on-board prices on spring orders, reduce the size of orders on autumn orders not yet in production, delay on some orders and immediately normalize payment terms. with marked standards.
“These coming months will no doubt be a real test of the strength and bond of our collaboration and partnership.
“We ask you and your company to join us through these uncertain times and share the short-term burden.”
The bestseller brand has around 220 million products produced in more than 700 factories in Europe and Asia every year. Povlsen and his company said they did their best to protect work.
But the move was attacked by fair trade campaigner Fiona Gooch, of the Traidcraft Exchange, who said it would plunge women workers who had been depressed on location into greater financial difficulties.
He said clothing was made in factories that employ hundreds of thousands of workers in low-wage economies – including Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar and Pakistan.
Gooch added: “Anders Povlsen is a multi-billionaire who has made money from his hard work
millions of young women make products for brands like Jack & Jones and online retailers like Asos and Zalando.
“As well as its business choices for searching from low-cost countries without social safety nets and minimum wage rates, during this global pandemic, it can also be his choice to honor contracts and
pay in full.
“We have heard from suppliers that businesses are asked to accept terms of delayed payments for 120 days, which means consumers in the UK can wear products for two months before they pay their suppliers.”
Other Bestseller brands include Name It, Only, Only & Sons and Vero Moda, made by
more than 50 Bangladeshi suppliers, employing at least 148,000 workers.
Around 80 percent of employees in the global garment industry are women.
In Bangladesh, most workers are paid around 10,000 taka per month – around £ 95 – from producers who supply international brands.
Povlsen first visited the Highlands with his parents in the 80s.
He has accumulated ownership of his land in the area since 2006, when he bought 42,000 hectares of Glenfeshie land in Cairngorms for £ 8 million.
Entrepreneurs vow to “restore parts of our plateau to their former glorious state and repair the damage that humans have inflicted on them”.
Povlsen and his wife Anne, 41, suffered heartbreak last year when their three children – Alma, 15, Agnes, 12, and Alfred, five – were among 290 victims of Easter Sunday. terrorist bombing by Islamist fanatics during a family vacation in Sri Lanka.
Only their youngest daughter, Astrid, 11, survived. The couple thanked the Scots in an open letter after the tragedy.
They wrote: “The Scottish Highlands have given us special memories that are lasting to our family. For this reason many words of comfort have fortified us and touched our hearts. “
Three months ago, the Povlsens announced the arrival of twin baby girls, whom they described as their “little miracles”.
Last month, the tycoon was criticized for his decision to appeal to almost 50 staff and not even increase their wages.
The Government Employment Retention Scheme of cash was used to pay 49 workers at the Wildland conservation company during the coronavirus crisis.
A Highland politician asked Povlsen to sell one of his plantations so he could honor his company’s clothing manufacturing contract.
The Rhoda Grant MSP Plateau and Island, Scottish LaborA spokesman for poverty and inequality, said: “This kind of behavior points to the old order in which people think it can accumulate wealth behind the poor.
“It’s no longer washing with the community and I hope people will look closely at who they buy.
“He could easily sell one of his Highland plantations and use the money to pay for the very difficult workers he relied on. I’m sure our community will be happy to see community purchases. “
Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in London, has campaigned for equality in global trade.
He said: “It is very reprehensible that many multinational companies have withdrawn from their contracts or canceled orders, leaving local producers and their workers in some of the world’s poorest countries in severe difficulties and even starving.
“This is endangering the lives of millions of workers and their families.”
Scottish Greens leader Patrick Harvie said: “Mr. Povlsen represents everything that is wrong with the way our economy operates, accumulating obscene levels of wealth while placing a risk burden on the global poor.”
Morten Norlyk, a spokesman for Povlsen and Bestseller, said: “At Bestseller, we are partners with our suppliers and they are with us.
“We see them as our foundation and treat our suppliers with deep respect and always have.
“We do everything in our power to support them and their workers – especially now, when many are faced with locking and cannot produce or send.
“We are currently increasing orders again to keep as much work as possible in our supply chain.”