Boohoo admits ‘clearly unacceptable issues in supply chain’
Posted on September 25, 2020 by Alistair Hardaker
The results of an independent review of the working practices at online fashion giant Boohoo have been revealed by the firm.
Alison Levitt QC’s review follows a Sunday Times investigation in July which revealed poor conditions at a factory in Leicester, which led to several leading retailers dropping its clothes and more than £1.5bn being wiped off the firm’s valuation as it fell to £3.2bn.
However its market cap has since recovered most of that, climbing back to £4.5bn.
Boohoo said the review had identified many failings, alongside recommended improvements to the firm’s related corporate governance, compliance and monitoring processes.
Boohoo made clear that the report showed it had not deliberately allowed poor conditions and low pay to exist within its supply chain and “it did not intentionally profit from them and its business model is not founded on exploiting workers in Leicester”.
John Lyttle, Group CEO, said the review had identified “significant and clearly unacceptable issues” and that it was “clear that we need to go further and faster to improve our governance, oversight and compliance”.
Lyttle said the Group is implementing “necessary enhancements” to its supplier audit and compliance procedures, and the Board’s oversight of these matters will increase significantly.
In July, as part of its first response to the scandal, the firm pledged an incremental £10m investment to improving its workplaces.
It now reports that within the next six months the firm will consolidate its approved supplier list, invite new suppliers with a track record of ethical and sustainability policies, extend its independent audit programme and complete the process of auditing all of its tier one and tier two UK suppliers.
“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,” continued Lyttle.
Deputy chairman Brian Small, who was Boohoo’s representative for the review, added: “Although in some parts it makes for uncomfortable reading, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms Levitt on record for her diligent and thorough Independent Review, which we are making public in full today.
“We welcome in particular her clear recommendations, which we accept, and as a board are committed to driving up standards in our supply chain and business practices.”