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Boohoo slashes UK suppliers following Leicester investigation

By Huw Hughes

Mar. 25, 2021

Fashion

Boohoo has cut ties with a swathe of suppliers following a review of its UK supply chain.

“The group has ceased doing business with a number of manufacturers who were unable to demonstrate the high standard of transparency required, despite being provided with opportunities to address any issues identified in the auditing process,” Boohoo said in a statement Thursday.

It follows an independent review into the fast-fashion giant’s supply chain launched last year following reports of poor working conditions.

The review, led by Alison Levitt QC, was concluded in September and found “many failings” in the factories of some of Boohoo's suppliers in Leicester but ultimately stated there was “no evidence that the company itself or its officers have committed any criminal offences”.

When publishing the results of the independent review, Boohoo announced its Agenda for Change programme in which it set out six steps to enhance its supplier audit and compliance procedures. As part of that, it said it would publish a full list of its UK suppliers.

Boohoo severs links with suppliers in transparency push

The newly-published list reveals Boohoo is now working with 78 approved manufacturers operating across 100 sites in the UK.

Boohoo acknowledged that this number was “a significant reduction” from the approximately 500 quoted in the Levit review, but said: “This is due to a consolidation of the supply chain; suppliers being required to bring CMT units in-house to allow for greater oversight and remove the issue of unapproved sub-contracting; the original figure including businesses who supplied goods and services other than garment manufacturing.”

The group said it worked with independent auditors Verisio and Bureau Veritas to carry out unannounced visits to suppliers, with the majority of them having been audited twice over the last eight months.

CEO John Lyttle said in a statement: “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 are driving positive change in the industry and 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.”

Boohoo also announced the launch of its new sustainability strategy, ‘Up.Front Fashion Ready for the Future’, which sets out targets in three key areas: smarter manufacturing of clothes, better terms for suppliers, and a reduced carbon footprint.

Lyttle continued: “The publication of our UK supply chain List marks another step on our journey towards greater transparency and embedding positive change, not only in our own organisation, but through the wider network of businesses that make up our supply chain. Through our Sustainability Strategy we are committing to ambitious targets across production, supply and governance to ensure the business is ready for the future.”

Image: Boohoo