Apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch announced Wednesday that it would agree to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a spokeswoman said.
The pact began circulating last year and aims to improve worker safety and labor rights. It has gained momentum since the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers.
According to MarketWatch, Abercrombie is the first major U.S. retailer to agree to the accord after more than two dozen mostly European companies signed in the wake of the Bangladesh collapse. PVH Corp., maker of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, was the first American company to commit, in March 2012.
In an email to The Huffington Post Wednesday night, Abercrombie confirmed it has verbally agreed to the accord.
"We are committed to Bangladesh and support industry-wide efforts to improve safety standards," Kim Harr, Abercrombie's director of sustainability, wrote in a statement. "We believe this is the right thing to do to bring about sustainable, effective change."
In the wake of the Bangladesh collapse, a number of large global retailers, including H&M and Zara parent Inditex, have agreed to the accord. But some large U.S. retailers, including Gap and Walmart, have failed to sign the legally binding agreement.
On Tuesday, Walmart announced it plans to develop its own safety program aimed at improving conditions in Bangladesh. But the retail giant's announcement was met with much skepticism.
What Walmart announced on Tuesday is a voluntary program that amounts to no more than an aspirational statement, labor advocates said. They portrayed the announcement as a crafty public relations device: Noting that the deadline to sign the stricter industry-wide accord lands on Wednesday, they took Walmart’s statement as a sign the company will not go along with that agreement, while still finding a way to take credit for bold action.
Here are the retailers who have so far committed to the pact:
PVH, the company that owns labels Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Izod labels, initially made a commitment to factory safety in March 2012 and reaffirmed its<a href="http://www.pvh.com/investor_relations_press_release_article.aspx?reqid=1818634" target="_blank"> commitment after the Bangladesh factory collapse</a>, according to a company press release. PVH has pledged <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-14/h-m-inditex-joining-bangladesh-pact-pressures-wal-mart-retail.html" target="_blank">$2.5 million to the accord</a>, Bloomberg News reports.
German retailer Tchibo also <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/14/benetton-bangladesh-safety-pact_n_3272219.html?1368543349" target="_blank">signed on to the pact last year</a>.
Swedish retailer H&M became the first company in the wake of the Bangladesh building collapse to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/13/hm-bangladesh_n_3265762.html?1368453479&utm_hp_ref=business" target="_blank">sign the safety pact</a>. The company said in a statement that it hoped the agreement would help lead to an "industry in which no worker needs to fear fires, building collapses or other accidents that could be prevented with reasonable health and safety measures."
Just hours after H&M made their announcement to sign on to the pact, Dutch retailer <a href="http://www.retaildetail.eu/en/eur-europe/eur-fashion/item/15151-hm-inditex-and-ca-sign-charter-for-safer-factories-in-bangladesh" target="_blank">C&A followed suit</a>.
Inditex SA, owner of the Zara chain, committed to the pact as well. A spokesperson told CNBC that "the accord has not come out yet, but as you know <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/id/100731788" target="_blank">we have played a very active part in its development</a>."
"For the multinational retailers like Tesco who source from Bangladesh, we must help it to <a href="https://www.tescoplc.com/talkingshop/index.asp?blogid=114" target="_blank">change in a positive way</a>, a way which sustains and improves the livelihoods of all those who work in the industry," Kevin Grace, director of Tesco, wrote in a blog post about the British retailer's decision to join the pact.
After initially <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/29/bennetton-bangladesh-factory-collapse_n_3179523.html" target="_blank">denying its ties to the collapsed Bangladesh factory</a> only to admit later that its <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2321843/Benetton-admits-clothes-illegal-Bangladesh-factory-collapsed-killing-900-workers.html" target="_blank">clothes were indeed made there</a>, Italian fashion brand <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/14/benetton-bangladesh-safety-pact_n_3272219.html?1368539289" target="_blank">Benetton committed to the pact on May 14</a>, according to a company spokesperson.
El Corte Ingles
The Spanish department store group El Corte Ingles said their suppliers signed on to the pact, Scott Nova of the Worker Rights Consortium told The Huffington Post.
Nova also confirmed that British retailer Next has signed on to the accord.
Primark, a British retailer that <a href="http://business.time.com/2013/05/02/bangladesh-factory-collapse-is-there-blood-on-your-shirt/" target="_blank">admitted some of its clothing was made at the collapsed factory</a>, was also one of the first retailers to <a href="http://metro.co.uk/2013/05/14/primark-hm-and-zara-sign-bangladesh-safety-agreement-3758237/" target="_blank">sign on to the pact</a>.
Mango, which was one of the companies that <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/04/30/jcpenney-mango-among-companies-that-used-fatal-bangladesh-factory.html" target="_blank">sourced products from the fatal factory,</a> agreed to the accord, a spokesperson told The Huffington Post.
Marks & Spencer
British retailer Marks & Spencer, which <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-bangladesh-building-safetybre94d0i3-20130514,0,3758384.story" target="_blank">sources from 60 factories in Bangladesh</a> according to the Chicago Tribune, committed to the accord on May 13.
The French retailer <a href="http://money.msn.com/business-news/article.aspx?feed=OBR&date=20130514&id=16476984" target="_blank">Carrefour</a> announced on May 14 that it would sign the accord, according to Reuters.
Loblaw Companies, the owner of Joe Fresh, committed to the accord on May 14 according to a statement emailed to The Huffington Post. The Canadian brand was <a href="http://business.time.com/2013/05/02/bangladesh-factory-collapse-is-there-blood-on-your-shirt/" target="_blank">manufacturing apparel</a> at the Rana Plaza factory, Time reports.
Abercrombie & Fitch
Abercrombie & Fitch verbally agreed to the accord on May 15, a company spokesperson confirmed to HuffPost.