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Boohoo launches independent review of supply chain

Boohoo has launched an “immediate, independent” review of its supply chain, 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 retailer had previously defended its business practices against accusations that it was putting workers at factories in Leicester at risk of contracting coronavirus.

While Boohoo “categorically” denied malpractice claims made by Labour Behind the Label, a report released by The Sunday Times last weekend (5 July) found evidence of workers in Leicester making Boohoo clothes for £3.50 an hour, less than half the £8.72 minimum wage. 

An undercover reporter at the paper also filmed himself packing clothes with Nasty Gal labels at the Jaswal Fashions factory, noting that the site was open during the local lockdown with “no additional hygiene or social distancing measures in place”.

In response to the findings, the independent review, led by Alison Levitt QC, launched “as soon as the group was made aware” of the mistreatment of warehouse workers. 

It will aim to identify areas of risk and non-compliance, outline action to strengthen future compliance, and provide stakeholders with “comfort that similar allegations will not recur in the future”.

It will also prioritise reviews of compliance with minimum wage and Covid-19 regulations, working hours and record keeping and right to work documentation and contracts of employment. 

In addition to the review, Boohoo announced it is making an initial investment of £10m to eradicate supply chain malpractice, and will accelerate the independent review with ethical audit and compliance specialists, Verisio and Bureau Veritas. 

The group also said it would “welcome” the opportunity to work alongside the Home Secretary and local authorities on any future investigations regarding labour malpractice. 

In its latest update, however, the retailer noted that its findings to date “show some inaccuracies” with the Sunday Times exposé.

According to Boohoo, the garments featured in the undercover video were manufactured in Morocco, not Leicester, and “contrary to the media report”, Jaswal Fashions Limited “is not and has never been a supplier for the group, and does not operate in the unit stated”. 

While its investigation failed to find evidence of workers being paid £3.50 per hour, it has “found other evidence of non-compliance with our Code of Conduct”.

The group has now taken the decision to “immediately terminate its relationship with both suppliers”.

John Lyttle, Group CEO, said: “As a board we are deeply shocked by the recent allegations about the Leicester garment industry. 

“We wish to reiterate how seriously we are taking these matters and we will not hesitate to terminate any relationships where non-compliance with our Code of Conduct is found.” 

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