Sunday, April 18, 2021

boohoo ceases business with manufacturers as it looks to create “vibrant manufacturing base in Leicester”

Online fashion retailer boohoo has published details of its manufacturers and a new sustainability strategy, whilst looking to create a “vibrant manufacturing base in Leicester” that “offers good employment and great prospects for the workers and the industry in Leicester as a whole.”

In what boohoo says is “a key milestone in the company’s ‘Agenda for Change’ programme,” the move comes six months after the publication of an independent report produced by Alison Levitt QC identifying “many failings in [its] Leicester supply chain.”

The review considered whether allegations about working conditions and low pay were well-founded and the extent to which boohoo monitored its Leicester supply chain and had knowledge of the allegations.

This followed a damning report from Labour Behind the Label, indicating that conditions in Leicester’s factories, primarily producing for boohoo, were putting workers at risk of COVID-19 infections and fatalities.

Today’s (25 March) announcement is a result of work carried out through the Group’s Agenda for Change programme, to map and audit the company’s manufacturers and introduce changes to the way the business works with its suppliers.

In November 2020, the Group appointed former High Court Judge Sir Brian Leveson to provide independent oversight of the implementation of the Agenda for Change programme.

boohoo said that a responsible sourcing and compliance team led by Director of Responsible Souring, Andrew Reaney, has been working with independent auditors Verisio and Bureau Veritas to examine the working practices of suppliers and a majority of UK suppliers have been audited twice over the last eight months, including in the evenings and at weekends.

Additionally, Sir Brian commissioned Tim Godwin OBE, former acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, to carry out additional forensic level enquiries to identify and address any irregularities in the leadership and management of suppliers’ businesses.

boohoo noted that the published list of suppliers will continue to have their operations and standards monitored frequently to drive long-term, positive change. This will include checks on working conditions and overall compliance with the Group’s supplier Code of Conduct.

The Group has ceased doing business with a number of manufacturers who were unable to demonstrate the standard of transparency required.

boohoo CEO, John Lyttle, said: “This is the not the end of a project for us at boohoo but the beginning of a new way of working with our suppliers. We have faced up to the problems of the past and are now driving positive change in the industry. We want to play our part in rebuilding a vibrant manufacturing base in Leicester, one that offers good employment and great prospects for the workers and the industry in Leicester as a whole.”

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