Swedish fashion retailer set for Ethiopia expansion

800px-H&M_Festival_Walk_Store1Swedish fashion retailer H&M has announced that it is to launch production factories in Ethiopia. The retailer had previously carried out the vast majority of its production in Asian countries, but spokeswoman Camilla Emilsson-Falk said they are an expansive company that is always looking at new markets that can help guarantee they can deliver products to stores within their expansive markets.

She added that the do this by increasing productivity in existing production markets and by looking at new markets.

H&M has placed test orders with Ethiopian suppliers and factories are due to be built in the coming months, but Emilsson-Falk said they do not know when the new factories will be ready and the number of suppliers they will need yet. She said the country is developing and they believe they can sustain economic growth and provide job opportunities there.

Ethiopia has been used for leather, textile and shoe production since 1939, when Italy occupied it. Other apparel retailers, including Chinese shoe-manufacturer Huajian, and Tescos have already started sourcing products in the East African country.

Despite an annual average of 9.9 per cent economic growth since 2004, Ethiopia is still one of the poorest countries in the world. It has also been heavily criticised by watchdog organisations for lacking human rights.

However, Emilsson-Falk said they carried out an extensive risk analysis for the country, looking at environmental issues and human rights. She added that they have worked on improving working conditions in countries where they have production factories for many years and intend to use their experience when working with Ethiopian suppliers.