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French retailer sued over Rana Plaza disaster


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In a first, French supermarket giant Auchan has been sued by three organizations 

for its involvement in the deadly Rana Plaza building collapse in Dhaka that killed more than 1,100 workers a year ago.

Though Auchan denied ever having placed orders at any of the five garment factories housed at Rana Plaza, labels of the chain’s "In Extenso" range were found among the debris during an investigation.

Three lobby groups - Sherpa, a non-profit organization for the "victims of economic crimes", Peuples Solidaires (People's Solidarity) and the collective Ethique sur l'etiquette (Ethics on Labels) – accuse Auchun of misleading customers about working conditions overseas and have filed a complaint with a public prosecutor in France. They are calling on a number of witnesses in Europe and Bangladesh to provide evidence and are keen to carry out a preliminary investigation as soon as possible.

Auchan is one of the signatories of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and claims to have made "a number of changes" in the wake of the disaster. However, the company headquartered in Croix close to Lille was not ready to comment on a complaint it had not yet seen. In an earlier statement to AFP, the company remained firm on its stance to have not produced at Rana Plaza and said: "We never sent orders to Rana Plaza and there was no direct, or indirect, link between Auchan and the businesses on the site." However, it launched an action plan against undeclared sub-contracting in the meantime.

Auchan is one of the world’s largest retailers with close to 650 hypermarkets and over 2,400 supermarkets in more than 12 countries worldwide, among them Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Ukraine, China, India, Russia and Taiwan. In 2013, the company recorded sales of over 48 billion euros.

Rana Plaza