A QC, charged with carrying out an independent review into Boohoo’s Leicester supply chain, will deliver her report, including her findings and recommendations, by 15 September, the online fashion group has confirmed.
Alison Levitt QC was appointed to carry out the inquiry after allegations from an undercover reporter for The Sunday Times of underpayment of staff at a Leicester factory where Boohoo and Nasty Gal clothing was seen.
Following its own investigation, Boohoo said the factory in question had been subcontracted without its consent to repackage clothing made elsewhere. It said it found no evidence of underpayment but its code of practice had been breached and it severed ties with the supplier.
However Levitt was charged with investigating its entire Leicester supply chain and report back on her findings. The company has said the scope of the review will cover four key objectives.
1. To investigate the allegations made in relation to the Leicester supply chain and determine whether they are well-founded;
2. If they are, to consider the extent to which the Boohoo Group monitored its Leicester supply chain and had knowledge of the allegations;
3. To consider the Boohoo Group’s compliance with the relevant law; and
4. To make recommendations for the future in response to those findings.
It has said that findings and recommendations should be evidence-based and proportionate and stressed that the review is fully independent with Levitt being instructed by Jason Cropper of TLT LLP. A team of solicitors from TLT LLP and two junior counsel will support Levitt and the methodology of the review will include a public call for information.
The statement comes after it was confirmed that Boohoo intends to open its own “model factory” in Leicester with a joint venture partner. The project is due to be up and running by September, but should there be any delays it has said it will open a temporary site in the interim.
Chief executive John Lyttle has said the site, based on a 2.5 acre plot of land that was formerly home to a car dealership, will be equipped with the latest technology and employ 200 staff. It will have the capacity to create 50,000 garments a week.
Speed to market is the cornerstone of Boohoo’s success giving it the ability to swiftly repeat best sellers, a process it calls “test and repeat”, and pivot its offer according to market forces. During lockdown it was able to shift its focus from party wear to leisurewear and grew sales as a result.