Ever since a building with garment factories collapsed in Bangladesh last week, killing more than 400 people, Western apparel companies with ties to the country have scrambled to address public concerns about working conditions there.
Benetton repeatedly revised its accounts of goods produced at one of the factories, while officials at Gap, the Children’s Place and other retailers huddled to figure out how to improve conditions, and some debated whether to remain in Bangladesh at all.
At least one big American company, however, had already decided to leave the country — pushed by the last devastating disaster, a fire just six months ago that killed 112 people.
The Walt Disney Company, considered the world’s largest licenser with sales of nearly $40 billion, in March ordered an end to the production of branded merchandise in Bangladesh. A Disney official told The New York Times on Wednesday that the company had sent a letter to thousands of licensees and vendors on March 4 setting out new rules for overseas production.
“Disney’s move reflects the difficult calculus that companies with operations in countries like Bangladesh are facing as they balance profit and reputation against the backdrop of a wrenching human disaster.”