Turkish firms say H&M, M&S cancel billions of dollars of orders, exports slump

Turkish clothing makers say exports may slump 80 percent as customers abroad cancel billions of dollars of orders.

The companies are in talks with global brands such as H&M, Marks & Spencer and Primark over payments and orders placed, according to Mustafa Gültepe, head of the Istanbul Apparel Exporters’ Association. Hundreds of billions of dollars of clothing are now in storage awaiting shipment, he said.

Exports by the industry shrank by an annual 27 percent in March, but the decline could exceed 70 percent or 80 percent by April or May, Gültepe said, the Diken news website reported.

Turkish apparel companies had expected exports of $19 billion this year, with about 70 percent of that amount destined for the European Union and Britain, Diken said.

But Gültepe said manufacturers were now working at around 30 percent of their capacity compared with 85 percent three months ago. Many firms have suspended production, while others are working at minimum levels, he said. There is no sign that the situation will improve over the next three months at least, he said.

Gültepe called on the government to provide financial support for shorter working hours for at least five months from the start of April. It should also ensure that social security, taxes and bank loan repayments are delayed for a year, he said.

The Trade Ministry should also complete preparations to ensure the financial costs of unsold stock are met, Gültepe said.