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PAGEIND - Page Industries News Story

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Consumer Cyclicals
Large Cap
Market Cap £3.21bn
Enterprise Value £3.19bn
Revenue £243.5m
Position in Universe 124th / 3106

EXCLUSIVE-U.S. apparel watchdog probes Jockey's Indian partner after human rights abuse allegations

Wed 14th October, 2020 9:43am
* Apparel watchdog WRAP probes Page Industries plant in
    * WRAP could pull certification based on probe outcome
    * Certification highly sought after for ethics compliance
    * Page denies allegations

 (Adds Page Industries share price, bullets)
    By Sachin Ravikumar and Chandini Monnappa
    BENGALURU, Oct 14 (Reuters) - A top apparel industry
watchdog has launched an investigation into underwear maker
Jockey International's Indian partner Page Industries Ltd
 PAGE.NS  following allegations of human rights abuses at one of
its factories, the watchdog told Reuters.
    The investigation by U.S.-based Worldwide Responsible
Accredited Production (WRAP) comes after Norway's $1 trillion
sovereign wealth fund dropped Page from its investment portfolio
due to concerns of human rights violations at "Unit-III" - one
of Page's Jockey manufacturing sites in the southern Indian city
of Bengaluru.*:nL8N2FX1X3
    Page has denied wrongdoing and called allegations
 of verbal abuse and workplace intimidation against employees
"outrageous". It did not answer Reuters' questions about the
WRAP probe, but said it has evidence which "flatly disproves"
the allegations.
    Shares in Page Industries fell as much as 3.2% on India's
National Stock Exchange on Wednesday after news of the probe.
The stock, which had climbed 0.8% earlier on Wednesday, was down
1.2% as of 0820 GMT.
    In an email to Reuters, WRAP spokesman Seth Lennon said such
violations could normally result in a factory losing its
    "Should the facility refuse to remediate such
non-compliances or should the remediation efforts be
insufficient, WRAP will revoke the facility's certification. In
case any non-compliances noted prove to be so egregious as to
leave no room for remediation, WRAP reserves the right to
immediately suspend the facility's certificate," Lennon said.
    WRAP said it makes certification decisions on a
facility-by-facility basis and that it investigates whenever it
receives credible concerns.    
    The Page site under investigation is certified until Nov.
15. WRAP did not say whether it would investigate any of Page's
other manufacturing sites.
    A WRAP certificate is much sought after by garment factories
in countries including India, Bangladesh, China and Vietnam, as
it provides assurance to international clothing brands that a
factory adheres to certain ethical and safety standards.
    U.S.-based Jockey, a WRAP founding member, told Reuters it
requires all of its partners to maintain the certification and
that it would "closely monitor" the outcome of an internal
evaluation of the allegations being carried out by Page. 
    It did not comment on whether it would sever ties with Page
if the Indian company was censured by WRAP.
    Bengaluru-headquartered Page is the exclusive licensee for
Jockey wear in India and six other countries. Page also makes
apparel for Britain-based swimwear maker Speedo, but in a
smaller capacity.
    Speedo said last month it would investigate the Norwegian
wealth fund's allegations and follow up with Page "as a matter
of urgency". It did not respond to a Reuters email seeking
comment on the WRAP probe.*:nL4N2G027P
    While WRAP did not specify when it began its investigation
into the Page factory, a person with knowledge of the
development said it started in late September.
    The Unit-III factory in Bengaluru employs about 1,000
workers. Page, which reported roughly $400 million in revenue in
the fiscal year ended March 31, did not disclose what proportion
of sales came from Unit-III.
    The outcome of the WRAP probe is due in the coming weeks,
the person said, without specifying a date. The person was not
authorised to speak publicly on the matter and so declined to be
    WRAP said it would not comment on the details of an ongoing
    Page said it has engaged with the Norwegian wealth fund's
Council on Ethics - the body which recommended the fund exclude
Page from its portfolio after its investigation "assessed the
risk that Page is contributing to or is itself responsible for
systematic abuses of internationally recognised human and labour
    The Council on Ethics told Reuters it had accepted Page's
request for a meeting, and that it would likely need to conduct
another investigation to assess whether its recommendation on
Page should change.

 (Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar and Chandini Monnappa in
Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Euan Rocha,
Christopher Cushing and Jan Harvey)
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