* Next CEO says move is "big step"
* Orders switched to Bangladesh, Cambodia and China
* Primark, H&M, and Benetton have also paused orders
(Adds detail of where Next's orders have gone instead)
By James Davey
LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) - Britain's Next on
Thursday joined a growing list of European clothing retailers
suspending new production orders with factories in Myanmar in
the wake of February's military coup.
Myanmar has been rocked by protests since the army overthrew
the elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on
Feb. 1 citing unsubstantiated claims of fraud in a November
At least 536 civilians have been killed in protests, 141 of
them on Saturday, the bloodiest day of the unrest, according to
the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
Myanmar is known globally for its yarn, fabric and textile
products, and its garment industry is a key source of jobs.
"We're not placing any more orders at the moment, that is a
big step," CEO Simon Wolfson told Reuters after Next reported
"We don't source a lot of our product from Myanmar but most
of the stock that we were sourcing from Myanmar...we have
alternatives in place already for that stock in other
Next's orders previously going to Myanmar have now been
split between Bangladesh, Cambodia and China.
Wolfson said Myanmar provided less than 5% of Next's total
On Wednesday, Associated British Foods said its
Primark fashion business had paused orders in Myanmar, following
similar moves from Sweden's H&M, the world's
second-biggest fashion retailer, and Italy's Benetton Group.
On Monday Italian clothing retailer OVS said it
would keep its "limited presence" in Myanmar but would stop its
business with suppliers acting in a discriminatory way towards
workers involved in rallies against the country's junta.
Britain's Marks & Spencer said it is continuing with
its booked orders but keeping future orders under review.
Separately on Thursday, Britain sanctioned a Myanmar
conglomerate for its close links to the military leadership
which Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said was wantonly killing
innocent people including children.
(Reporting by James Davey; editing by David Evans)