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Banana Republic to Examine Factory Allegations

Banana Republic said Thursday that it has launched an investigation into British newspaper allegations of unfair working conditions at factories that...

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LONDON — Banana Republic said Thursday that it has launched an investigation into British newspaper allegations of unfair working conditions at factories that produce its clothing.

Banana Republic's statement came on the heels of a report in The Guardian newspaper alleging that workers in India are being forced to work more than 70 hours a week for less than 15 pence, or 30 cents, an hour.

The newspaper conducted its investigation with the London-based charity War on Want, and the charity also staged a demonstration at Banana Republic's new London flagship on Thursday, the day of its official opening. The Regent Street store is Banana Republic's first unit in the U.K.

"Gap Inc. condemns unfair working conditions, such as the type of wage and hour violations described in this case. In fact, if we found that a factory deliberately concealed information or misled an investigation, we would immediately take steps that could ultimately lead to the termination of the factory," said Dan Henkle, Gap Inc.'s senior vice president of social responsibility.

"We are looking at the factories in that area where production of our clothing is done — factories which also do work for a number of other retailers — and plan to take appropriate action," he said, adding Gap already employs 90 staff globally to ensure compliance of factories with its Code of Vendor Conduct.

"This includes regularly conducting announced and unannounced factory visits," he said. "In 2006, we revoked our approval of 23 factories for compliance violations."

Banana Republic's announcement follows another investigation launched by Gap Inc. in October. That probe came after allegations by The Guardian's sister title, The Observer, that Gap clothing was being produced by child labor.
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