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Scottish manufacturing firms lose out on Commonwealth Games merchandise contracts

11 Mar 14  | Manufacturing

The Sottish Express recently reported that public fury has erupted after it emerged that almost all of the merchandise for Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games has been produced by workers in Asia.

Despite a promise to involve Scottish firms as much as possible in this summer’s sporting extravaganza, only a tiny number of merchandise products have been sourced from British companies.

The majority of T-shirts and other clothing items on sale were made in Bangladesh, while other souvenirs are being made in Chinese factories.

Only one labelled product – a scarf made in England – was not manufactured in either China or Bangladesh.

Merchandising for the Games is overseen by Northampton-based Venue Retail 2014 Ltd (VRL), which also worked on the London 2012 Olympics. When VRL was awarded the contract in 2012, Commonwealth bosses promised the merchandise would “showcase the designs and creativity of Scottish firms”.

But the collection of merchandise, which will eventually number 1,500 items, has so far had minimal Scottish input.

Of 26 products which have labels with details of their origin, 11 were made in China and 14 in Bangladesh.

Former athlete and Green Party MSP Alison Johnstone said: “Scottish manufacturing needs support and consumers expect product origin to be clear.”

Others raised concerns about the working conditions of factory workers in China and Bangladesh. Samantha Maher, of campaign group Labour Behind The Label, said: “There’s only one reason companies go abroad and that’s because it is cheaper.

“If they say they are going to use Scottish companies they should. And conditions within factories in Bangladesh and China are notorious. Issues such as child labour, bullying, long hours and no rights for workers are all commonplace.”

Business leaders said that the Games are a positive thing for firms in Scotland.

Colin Borland, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “While this is disappointing to find out, we need to be fair. They have been very good at giving Scottish firms a fair crack of the whip.”

The Games will run over 11 days in July, and will bring thousands of spectators to Glasgow.

A spokesman for Glasgow 2014 said suppliers had agreed to adhere to the code of conduct of The World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry.

“The code was designed as a model for companies committed to ensuring that their operations satisfy the highest ethical standards in the global marketplace,” he said.

“Of the 17 firms who have to date been granted sub-licences to supply goods for the official Glasgow 2014 merchandise range, nine are based in Scotland.”
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