Considered the world's largest licenser with sales of nearly $40 billion, a Disney official told the New York Times on Wednesday that the company had sent a letter to thousands of licensees and vendors on March 4 to take away production from "highest-risk countries," like Bangladesh, in order to improve safety standards in its supply chain. The report said that Disney will also halt production in four other countries -- Ecuador, Venezuela, Belarus and Pakistan -- by April 2014.
While the decision was reportedly made before last week's devastating collapse of a factory building in Bangladesh that left more than 500 people dead, it was apparently prompted by the November fire at the Tazreen Fashions Factory in Dhaka that killed 112 people and another fire in Pakistan that killed 262 garment workers last September.
A CNNMoney report has quoted President of Disney Consumer Products Bob Chapek as saying, "After much thought and discussion, we felt this was the most responsible way to manage the challenges associated with our supply chain."
The company will consider permitting production in Bangladesh in the future if factories agree to partner with the Better Work program, according to Disney spokeswoman Tasia Filippatos.
Disney is the first celebrated brand to completely stop production in Bangladesh.
Earlier this week, a group of retailers, including H&M, Wal-Mart and Gap, met with nongovernmental organizations and labor rights advocates in Frankfurt to discuss health and safety issues in the 4,500 garment factories in Bangladesh.
Thousands of people continued to gather on Wednesday around the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar, a suburb of Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital. Many relatives of the missing carried signs as emergency personnel dug through the rubble for yet another day.
A mass burial of unclaimed bodies was conducted as the death count climbed above 400.