Clothing & Shoes

Independent review ‘identifies many failings’ in Boohoo supply chain

Boohoo has published the results and response to the independent review of its UK supply chain. 

Alison Levitt QC was appointed to conduct the review, with a purpose to “consider boohoo’s obligations and duties of care in relation to the workforce in its Leicester supply chain”. 

The retailer first announced it would be launching the independent review in July following revelations of poor working conditions in a Leicester warehouse. 

Boohoo first responded to allegations of malpractice earlier this week, after a Sunday Times exposé highlighted the conditions at supplier Jaswal Fashions in an undercover report.

The report “identified many failings” in the Leicester supply chain and recommended improvements to boohoo’s related corporate governance, compliance and monitoring processes. 

It added there was “ample evidence” that the steps which Boohoo is taking to remedy supply chain issues had been implemented nearly a year ago, adding that “they were a product of processes it had itself put in place and not just a reaction to the negative publicity in July and August 2020”. 

The report stated: “Nevertheless, with the benefit of hindsight we regret that these processes did not advance quickly enough.

“Ms Levitt is satisfied that boohoo did not deliberately allow poor conditions and low pay to exist within its supply chain, it did not intentionally profit from them and its business model is not founded on exploiting workers in Leicester.”

The report concluded: “If boohoo is willing to take a different approach to how it both views and interacts with the Leicester supply chain, it has within its power to be a tremendous force for good.

“Ms Levitt is confident that the adaptations which Boohoo should make involve a relatively easily-achieved realignment of its priorities and governance systems and that the Board should not feel discouraged. It has already made a significant start on putting things right.”

CEO John Lyttle said: “Today we publish Ms Levitt’s Independent Review in full. This has identified significant and clearly unacceptable issues in our supply chain, and the steps we had taken to address them, but it is clear that we need to go further and faster to improve our governance, oversight and compliance. 

“As a result, the group is implementing necessary enhancements to its supplier audit and compliance procedures, and the Board’s oversight of these matters will increase significantly.”

He added: “As a board, we recognise that we need to rebuild confidence that these matters will be dealt with appropriately and sensitively, and that they will not recur. Garment workers in Leicester, and our suppliers across the city, are an important part of our success.  

“We recognise that boohoo has been a major force in driving the textile industry in Leicester and today want to reinforce our commitment to being a leader for positive change in the city, alongside workers, suppliers, local government, NGOs and the community at large.”

Lyttle confirmed that the group is now “setting out the further steps we are taking to drive long-lasting and meaningful change that all stakeholders in the boohoo group will benefit from”.

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