22 thoughts on “Primark Sweatshop PR Disaster

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  2. Every time Primark and the other sweatshop devils make a slip up it highlights proper ethical fashion. Emerging eco/ethical labels couldn’t afford this type of press otherwise as we’re not yet deserving–apparently.

    Shauna Chapman
    Founder, Quail
    Ethical, fairtrade and organic ladies fashion designed and made England

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  4. Hi Sue, thanks for the comment, glad you like the blog, please keep coming back! Would love to get your opinion on some of the topics i’m writing about :)

    Shauna, I completely agree with your point on this and I think that it is very unfair that Primark get lots of press coverage for bad practice whereas good honest retailers such as yourself struggle to get any exposure at all, and it is something that needs addressing by the PR industry as a whole.

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  9. What’s crazy is that this is the fourth such story in two years. There was a minor shopper backlash after the Panorama programme last year, but otherwise Primark sales figures are unaffected.

    As you say, how the PR folks over at ethicalprimark.com sleep at night I have no idea.

  10. Maybe the PR folks honestly believe that Primark were duped in this respect and the audit they recently carried out at TNS really didn’t show up the issues since highlighted?

    Maybe they can sleep at night because they’re telling the truth and any sleeplessness is the result of worrying over what other similar unexpected issues will pop up despite the best efforts of Primark?

    It seems everyone is too ready to jump down the throats of PR’s/companies in cases such as this and assume everything is at best ‘spin’ and at worst outright lies? What would you do in their shoes and in the shoes of Primark?

    Apologies for the rant but as a PR I do get fed up with everyone assuming the worst. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly very well known celebrity PR’s who undoubtedly are very creative with the truth but that’s publicity, not PR. :-)

  11. Thank you so much for the links and the kind words. I’m feeling brilliant now. :)

    You bring up an important point. While a large chain cannot possibly know the practices of each and every supplier, they do know quite clearly that their pricing pressures are going to drive questionable practices of cost control. If they were serious about containing issues among suppliers, they would have some kind of explicit standards and auditing procedures in place–but that would add to the cost of products. It’s much easier to demand incredibly cheap products, and blame the suppliers when these unethical practices come to light. And as you point out, as long as they aren’t paying a price among consumers, they’ll continue to wash their hands of supplier practices. I’m sad to say I suspect this will only get worse as the economy continues to sag, and customers decide the low prices are more important than noble concerns about workers.

    Thanks for covering this issue.

  12. Thanks for not minding that i’ve thieved your articles to link to Chris!

    What depresses me most about the Primark scandals is the fact that they keep making a profit – there was a report today to demonstrate this, as Primark have made a 16% increase in profit in the last 16 weeks. I wonder if the next report they issue will be similar?

  13. Hi Melle, thank you for your coment :)

    I take your point about the PRs being of course completely unaware of the nasty things that might pop up and this is something that I overlooked in the post. Sometimes it is easy to forget that there are many people with vested interests, in this case TNS, who don’t want to have their malign practices discovered. Primark as a company need to ensure that they do better digging to make sure their clothing manufacturers aren’t doing anything they shouldn’t be!

    I suppose what I needed to articulate better, and perhaps something that i can only properly do so now after reading your post, is that It would be very disturbing if the PR team were already aware of what was taking place and were briefed to keep the issue quiet by the client and actively did so. I would like to think and expect, that this probably isn;t the case of course!

  14. Hi Jeremy, thankyou for your comment :)

    I think that the key thing is Primark learn from this and do a better job at ensuring ethical working practices when they’re hiring these firms. The problem is, sadly, that many people aren’t bothered by the revelations and ignore the horrid things that are going on, even when its on their own doorstep. I think it will take a lot of education and more than the odd book from Naomi Klein to realy make people aware that this is common practice and should be prevented.

  15. Hi all

    Totally agree that Primark should be looking into their audit processes in infinitesimal detail to make sure issues such as this don’t ‘pop up’ unexpectedly and yes take the point Chris that maybe suppliers feel the need to use dodgy practices to meet the price expectations of Primark and ultimately their customers.

    I would like to think that the PR team didn’t know about the practices already and keeping quiet intentionally. If they’re members of the CIPR, the code of conduct specifies that you must not undertake any unethical practices on behalf of your clients/company as you have a moral obligation to the companies publics which surely this would come under? Although maybe I’m slightly naive in this respect and maybe there are far too many dubious PRs out there than I would like to believe?!! :-)

    I guess the other point about this whole scenario is whether the wage that workers are paid, whilst under the minimum specifications, is preferable to them than no job at all? Upping the wage would surely lead to less jobs leaving people out of work altogether. It would either be that or Primark’s prices would have to go up?!! I certainly don’t think stopping use of such suppliers without giving them a chance to improve their practices would do anyone any good at all.

    Rant 2 over!! :-)

    Loving the blog by the way! :-)


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