Boohoo review uncovers failings at Leicester supply chain
Boohoo has announced that an independent review of its Leicester supply chain has identified a number of failings and recommended that it make improvements to its corporate governance, compliance and monitoring processes.
The retailer announced in July that Alison Levitt QC would be leading a review after allegations of low pay and unsafe conditions at its suppliers’ factories emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement today, Boohoo said: “Ms Levitt’s independent review has identified many failings in the Leicester supply chain and recommended improvements to boohoo’s related corporate governance, compliance and monitoring processes. It goes on to state that there is ample evidence that the steps which Boohoo is now taking in relation to remedying problems in its Leicester supply chain had been implemented nearly a year ago. 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. 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.”
Boohoo is now implementing a six-step plan to effect what it describes as real change in the Leicester textile industry. Work will include improving the retailer’s governance and oversight, redefining purchasing practices and raising standards across its supply chain. It will also be supporting Leicester’s workers and their rights.
The retailer said Levitt is confident that the changes it is making should involve “a relatively easily achieved realignment of its priorities and governance systems” and that the board has already made a significant start on putting things right.
John Lyttle, Boohoo group chief executive, added: “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.
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.”
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