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Li & Fung to start factory safety consulting unit: WSJ

Piles of clothes are seen alongside sewing machines in the Tazreen Fashions garment factory, where 112 workers died in a devastating fire last month, in Savar November 30, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

(Reuters) - Li & Fung Ltd <0494.HK>(PKC:LFUGY) plans to launch a unit that consults on factory safety in the aftermath of a 2012 fire in a garment plant in Bangladesh that killed 112 workers, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The deadly blaze at the Tazreen factory was followed by the collapse of a Bangladesh building that housed factories last year in which more than 1,130 people died. The deadly incidents have raised scrutiny over conditions at factories that produce clothes for retailers worldwide.

Bangladesh is the second biggest clothing exporter after China in the $22 billion export business.

"The events in the last 18 months, particularly as it relates to worker safety, caused us to rethink our role in the global supply chain," Rick Darling, executive director of government and public affairs at Li & Fung, told the paper an interview.

Li & Fung's business unit plans to provide buyers and factories with consulting services, financing and insurance to help meet safety standards, the paper said.

Li & Fung, headquartered in Hong Kong, is a buying agent for retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT) and Target Corp (TGT). Clothing sourced through the company was found in the remains of the Tazreen factory fire, it said.

(Reporting by Richard Leong in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)