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EU's Flax & Hemp Subsidies
Page 1

Nordstrom's New Packaging
Page 1

La Senza's Controversial Underwear Line
Page 1

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The American Red Cross

  April 1, 2008                                           Issue #214


17/24

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EU's Flax And Hemp 
         Subsidies 
Subsidies will continue to be paid to European Union (EU) producers of flax and hemp fiber crops, the EU Council of Ministers has decided.
Indeed, ministers have decided to increase the aid paid to long flax fiber producers, raising it from the current EUR160 (US$251) per tonne to EUR200 per tonne from the 2009/10 marketing year onwards.
The decision will maintain local supplies within Europe that are affordable for yarn and textile manufacturers and may disappoint developing country exporters who oppose such subsidies.
In any case, ministers are sticking to their subsidies, with additional aid granted to processors of long flax fiber traditional production areas within Belgium, France and the Netherlands also continuing, albeit at the existing rate of between EUR120 and 50 per hectare, depending on the region.
Meanwhile, aid for short flax and hemp fiber production across the EU will remain at EUR90 per tonne.
There are guidelines stating that aid for short flax and hemp fibers be limited to those containing a maximum of 7.5% of impurities and shives, but this advice can be ignored by member states if they choose.


13/24   

Tarrant FY Profit
Despite a drop in its fourth quarter profit, clothing maker Tarrant Apparel Group finished the year with higher revenues and earnings following strong sales in its private label business.
For the three months to December 31, net income dropped to $325,000, from $1.7m in the same period last year. 
The Los Angeles-based company, which designs and sources private label and private brand casual apparel, said sales for the quarter were marginally lower at $57.3m compared to $57.4m.
The firm on March 26 said Private Brands sales rose 6.2% to $12.8m in the quarter on an increase in sales of the American Rag CIE brand. 
Private Label sales, however, fell 1.9% to $44.5m.
For the full year, the company swung to a net income of $1.7m or $0.06 per share, from a loss of $22.2m or $0.73 per share in fiscal 2006. 
Annual sales were up 4.9% to $243.7m from $232.4m. 
Higher sales to New York & Co and Seven Licensing were partially offset by decreased sales to Kohl's and Mervyn's, the company said in a statement. 
Gerard Guez, chairman and interim CEO, said the company "will continue to focus on tight cost containment as well as to pursue opportunities in the market to continue our growth."


10/24              Photographed by Lawrence O. Brown


La Senza's Controversial
     Underwear Line
La Senza's new range, which is aimed at youngsters aged between five and 12, contains lacy cropped tops with adjustable straps and pink frilly pants with love-heart details. 
Most of the bra-like tops, which stop just above the midriff, are crossed over at the front to imitate adult underwear. 
The garments are advertised on the store's website, which says: "Introducing La Senza's latest collection La Senza Girl, why should grown-ups have all the fun?"
The site, which boasts that its adult collection is "sexy, sensual, flirty and romantic", claims the underwear is intended to offer young girls "coverage" before they are ready for a training bra. 
But politicians, children's charities and campaigners have hit out angrily at the chain, saying it is putting children at risk and encouraging teenage pregnancy. 
Claude Knights, director of child protection charity Kidscape, said: "There is no doubt La Senza's brand is based on adult lingerie and is not for children. 
"The worry for us is always that we create children as sexual beings without them realizing it, which only creates further problems in society. 
"These young children are being offered a specific adult look without them fully understanding the consequences. 
"I would hope most parents would be critical to see it for what it is." 
David Davies, Conservative MP for Monmouth, claimed La Senza was "willing to make profits at the expense of public morality".
"We currently have the highest level of teenage pregnancy in the whole of Europe and the last thing we need is to encourage further sexual experimentation in young children," he said. 
"If you sexualize children at a young age, they tend to have children at a young age, often in unstable circumstances where they are unable to take care of the child in a responsible way. 
La Senza, which has been described as an "Agent Provocateur for the masses", has 176 stores in the UK. The girls' lingerie range was introduced into 20 of its shops last Wednesday. 
The store is the latest to be criticized for sexualizing young girls. 
Asda was forced to remove pink and black lace lingerie, including a push-up bra, which had been marketed to girls as young as nine. 
Children's groups also called for a boycott of a Little Miss Naughty range sold by Bhs, which included padded bras. And WH Smith provoked anger after selling a Playboy stationery range to schoolgirls. 
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children called for retailers to be more responsible about their products. 
Chris Cloke, the charity's head of child protection awareness, said: "Retailers must ensure they are not irresponsibly marketing adult-style clothing to children." 
But a spokesman for La Senza said: "I absolutely refute any suggestion that we are sexualizing young children. This range is in just 20 stores and is supposed to be fun we're not Ann Summers." 
Nordstrom's New Packaging
Fashion retailer Nordstrom is introducing a range of environmentally friendly new packaging initiatives, including fully recyclable shopping bags and gift boxes. 
The US company is set to make its paper shopping bags 100% recyclable by changing current, non-recyclable handles for recyclable cotton ones, introducing the new bags over the next six months as existing supplies run 
out. 
Nordstrom will also introduce new gift boxes made from 100% recycled paper stock, of which at least 30% is post-consumer waste. 
Existing silver foil trimmings will be converted to a matte silver ink, allowing the boxes to be recycled. 
The new boxes will be introduced in October and November. 
Finally, the retailer has launched a new scheme offering customers reusable shopping totes, initially in its West Coast stores. 
The new linen totes are planned for a roll-out across the country throughout 2008. 
"We know our customers care about the environment and this is an effort to serve them better and reduce our impact," said Erik Nordstrom, president of stores at Nordstrom. "We will continue to look for ways we can be a better corporate citizen."

 

Pakistani Factory Workers
            Protest
Shoe factory workers have staged a protest rally in Toba Tek Singh, Pakistan, asking for an increase in their wages.
Hundreds of employees participated in the city centre rally, chanting for a pay increase of at least a 20%. 
The demonstration took place March 15.
Addressing the crowds, labor leaders said that inflation in the country has increased over the last six months, and prices of daily items are beyond the purchasing power of poor workers.
They warned that if their demands were not accepted they would go on strike.
In June last year government of Pakistan announced a 15% increase in minimum wage from PKR4000 (US$64) to PKR4600 (US$74) per month for an unskilled worker.
However, it is thought that many companies are still paying even less than PKR4000 per month.

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