British Home Stores have announced that their only remaining contract for Burma sourced clothing is due to expire within the next three weeks. The company have signed a sequence of contracts with their UK suppliers for Burmese clothing. However on expiry of this current contract the company will not sign a new contract, and now have “no plans for further production from Burma”.
Bhs would not be drawn on the reason for the non-existence of further contracts. The company has made it clear that all their sourcing decisions are taken on a purely commercial basis. However the Bhs boycott campaign has attracted much negative publicity for the company over the last months and had the potential to have significant impact on Bhs sales figures. We believe that for this reason, if no other, Bhs decided not to sign a new contract.
The Burma Action Group launched the Bhs boycott campaign on 30/8/96 due to the companies sale of clothing “made in Myanmar”, and when correspondence failed to persuade them to end their Burma business. Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the democratically elected National League for Democracy, has repeatedly asked foreign companies to stay away from Burma, to avoid supporting an illegitimate system of government intrinsically harmful to the people of the country. Bhs have until recently simply asserted that “if Britain, the European Union or the United Nations were to impose an official economic boycott on Myanmar, Bhs would of course comply.” The Burma Action Group now welcomes the news that Bhs have no plans for further production from Burma.
At the Labour party conference on 30/9/96, Glenys Kinnock MEP and Derek Fatchett, Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister presented Bhs with an “Unethical Business of the Year” award for their operations in Burma. Since learning that Bhs will not be signing a new contract, the Burma Action Group have cancelled all further Bhs protest events scheduled to have taken place on October 12th in ten British towns and cities across the country.
Yvette Mahon, Coordinator said; “this is a clear success for the Burma campaign here in Britain. The news that Bhs, a major British company, is now no longer conducting business in Burma will lend great strength and encouragement to the Burmese democracy movement, at a time when they are subject to an increasingly aggressive wave of repression. The British people are increasingly behind them in their struggle for freedom, many are now prepared to demonstrate that fact by taking their custom elsewhere. We advise other UK companies currently doing business with Burma, including the high street retailer Debenhams, to take note. The Burma Action Group will be entering into correspondence with Debenhams, and will consider an appropriate course of action, pending their response.