Follow us


Priti Patel urges Boohoo to protect garment workers in their supply chain

Lauretta Roberts
25 August 2020

Home Secretary Priti Patel has written to Boohoo to urge the online fashion group to focus its efforts on protecting garment workers in its supply chain rather than terminating contracts with suppliers who breach its terms.

In a letter to the Manchester group's CEO John Lyttle Patel said she had been concerned about its response to recent accusations of mistreatment of staff at Leicester suppliers, which were revealed by an under-cover reporter.

“I am concerned that your response to recent reports of labour exploitation in your supply chains appears to be focused on terminating contracts with suppliers found to have breached your code of conduct, rather than on protecting vulnerable workers,” she said.

Boohoo was the subject of an investigative report by The Sunday Times, which claimed staff at a factory in Leicester, in which Boohoo garments were seen, were paid as little as £3.50 an hour.

The company, which sources around 40% of its garments in Leicester, carried out an internal investigation and said the supplier in question had been subcontracted to repackage items against it knowledge and it had found no evidence of underpayment in its supply chain, however it terminated its relationship with the supplier in question.

“It is now more important than ever before that businesses step up and take responsibility for conditions in their supply chain," Patel added.

In addition to its own investigation, Boohoo has appointed Alison Levitt QC to carry out an independent investigation of its supply chain, the results of which are due next month. Boohoo is also in the process of setting up a manufacturing facility of its own in Leicester, in a joint venture with a supplier, which is due to open in September.

The company said the establishment of the factory, which will feature the latest in technology and have the capacity to produce 50,000 garments a week.

Lyttle had previously written to the Home Secretary himself to urge her to introduce "Fit to Trade" licenses for British manufacturer to tackle issues such as underpayment and poor working conditions.

A joint effort between industry and government will ensure that the renaissance of [British manufactuing] which Boohoo group has been a proud part is a key contributor to our country’s trading future,” Lyttle said in his letter.

The British Retail Consortium, along with the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) for Fashion and Textiles and the APPG on Ethics and Sustainability for the Government, also wrote to Patel to encourage the Government to adopt licenses.

Newsletter banner

Free NewsletterVISIT