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‘Hema falling into wrong hands’

4 June 2007 - The sale of the Hema department store chain to Lion Capital is bad news for workers in low-wage countries, the Clean Clothes Campaign (SKK) fears. The organisation is going to pressurise the new owner into making the Hema more socially responsible.

Little is known about Lion Capital, but the fact that the investor does not even mention corporate social responsibility on its website says enough. “That is very rare nowadays”, said SKK coordinator Marieke Eyskoot.

When it became known that Hema was for sale, the SKK launched a campaign to buy the company with the help of the general public. The campaign was a success: prospective buyers indicated that they were willing to buy a quarter million euros’ worth of Hema shares.

However, it now seems that Lion Capital has outdone the SKK. According to media reports, the investor wants to pay 1.1 billion euro for the Hema. Although the SKK share campaign is still running, the organisation now also focuses on influencing Lion Capital and the works council.

“We call on them to turn Hema into the long-awaited social responsibility pioneer”, said Eyskoot. “People often call us to ask where they can buy clothes that no one has suffered for”.

In 2006, Lion Capital started investing in La Senza Lingerie. According to the SKK, this company was criticised in 2003 for buying from a Thai factory that fired trade union leaders and violated labour laws.


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