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Boohoo weighs closing Leicester factory after BBC investigation raises ethical concerns

first manufacturing site for breaking promises.

Boohoo’s first manufacturing site is ‘Leicester’s Thurmaston Leninabad’.  The site, on Thurmaston Lane, Leicester, is due to open in 2022, with Boohoo also accepting plans to use it as a training facility.

 A reporter at the firm’s headquarters witnessed reports of staff pressuring suppliers to lower prices, even after contracts were agreed.  Buhu said the plans were in no way related to the BBC Panorama investigation.

 The Manchester-based company said fewer than 100 employees at the factory could be affected so it assumed “some roles” would be moved.

 A spokesman said: “We opened Thurmaston Lane in January 2022 to support the group in a number of ways, including manufacturing, printing and training.

He added “Like any retail business, our site requirements evolve over time and after making a significant investment in our Sheffield distribution center and opening a new distribution center in the US, we now need to take special steps to ensure that we are a more efficient, be able to start a productive and strong business.

He added: “All these factors have led us to take the difficult decision to move some operations to Thurmaston Lane and consider closing the site in due course. We have now reached the decision to consult and ensure that all those affected are fully supported during this process.  Working diligently with colleagues.

2020 review found that workers in Boohoo’s Leicester supply chain were not always paid their salary wages correctly.

Even before the firm opened its factory, it faced accusations of mismanagement, unethical practices, poor pay and supply chain failures.  At the time, Boohoo said it was “committed to the city of Leicester and ethical British manufacturing”.  However, they could not keep their promise.

 In 2020, Boohoo pledged to overhaul its practices after claiming that some of its suppliers in Leicester suffered widespread abuse of employment law.

 An independent review of the claims, by Alison Levitt QC, found a series of failings. The review concluded that while Buhu did not profit from deliberately poor working practices, the firm’s monitoring of these factories was “inadequate”.

The company then introduced an agenda for change – including a commitment to pay its suppliers fair prices for clothing.

 BBC reporter Emma Lowther worked as an administrative assistant at Boohoo’s head office.  He too saw these promises continually undermined during his 10 weeks in hiding.

 Boohu said that already they have “invested significant time, effort and resources to drive positive change.

 BBC investigation published two months ago revealed that Boohoo had put pressure on suppliers to lower prices – even after the order was agreed.  It also revealed that hundreds of orders placed with Thurmaston Lane were actually made by seven factories in Morocco and four in Leicester.

 Boohoo’s lawyers say that Thurmaston Lane only makes 1% of all Boohoo’s clothes.

 During the investigation, Boohoo said it “has not shied away from addressing the problems of the past. We have invested significant time, effort and resources to drive positive change across every aspect of our business and supply chain”.

Fast fashion giant Boohoo blamed poor working conditions of its suppliers in 2020.  As a result, they faced severe criticism.

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