Canadian retail giant Reitmans Ltd. will remove from its stores all remaining inventory made at a factory in China suspected of using North Korean forced labour, according to a press release from the company.
The release was posted on its corporate website and Facebook pages on the evening of Nov. 5, just as a CBC Marketplace episode that featured the linen jacket aired.
"The story outlined by CBC has brought new information to light," read the post. The longer press release on the company's website emphasized that its previous audits of the factory had not found evidence of "any guest workers or forced labour."
The Canadian women's fashion retailer says it will pull not only the jacket identified by Marketplace but also three other Penningtons styles and two Reitmans styles that were also sourced from Dandong Huayang Textiles and Garment Co. Ltd., a Chinese factory on the border of North Korea. Reitmans says it will donate the clothing to local charities.
Reitmans — which operates 413 stores across Canada, including Reitmans, Penningtons and RW&CO — had told Marketplace it stopped submitting new orders with the factory last December when allegations arose that the factory may be using North Korean workers in forced-labour conditions — although an audit came back with no red flags.
Reitmans continued to receive clothes that were already in production, and it was selling those clothes on store shelves up until the day the Marketplace broadcast aired on Nov. 5.