Boohoo has published details of its UK manufacturers and new sustainability strategy, marking a key milestone in the group’s ‘Agenda for Change’ programme, whilst noting it has cut ties with a number of suppliers that did not meet its transparency targets.
The group confirmed that it has ceased doing business with a number of manufacturers as they were unable to “demonstrate the high standard of transparency required”, despite being provided with opportunities to address any issues identified in auditing processes.
It comes six months after an independent report produced by Alison Levitt QC “identified many failings” in the Leicester supply chain and recommended improvements to boohoo’s related corporate governance, compliance and monitoring processes
The latest move towards transparency forms part of the group’s Agenda for Change programme that was launched in light of the report, to map and audit the company’s manufacturers and introduce changes to the way the business works with its suppliers.
In November 2020, Boohoo appointed former High Court Judge Sir Brian Leveson to provide independent oversight of the implementation of the programme. Since then, its responsible sourcing and compliance team, led by Andrew Reaney, has been working with independent auditors Verisio and Bureau Veritas to examine the working practices of suppliers, while a majority of UK suppliers have been audited twice over the last eight months.
Leveson also 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.
As a result of this “extensive” mapping and auditing work, Boohoo has met one of Levitt’s core recommendations by publishing its list of approved UK suppliers. The published list of suppliers will continue to have their operations and standards monitored frequently.
Leveson said that it was “clear that few, if any, companies undertaking due diligence of their supply chains have gone to the lengths undertaken by boohoo and for which it deserves credit”.
He added: “It is important to underline that removal from the supply chain is being undertaken responsibly; existing contracts are being honoured but no new orders can be placed other than with a supplier who has been approved by the process.”
Boohoo CEO, John Lyttle, said: “This is 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.”