Boohoo has launched an independent review of its UK supply chain after a damning Sunday Times report into the dismal working conditions at a factory in Leicester.
The report triggered retail giants, Next and ASOS, as well as online retailer Zalando, to remove Boohoo clothing from their websites, in a move that has significantly impacted public opinion of the fast fashion retailer. Boohoo has been the subject of some controversy over the past few years as concerns grow around the right of workers to fair pay and decent working conditions, and this report has led to widespread calls on social media to boycott the brand.
The Sunday Times report claimed that workers in a factory in Leicester, which supplies Boohoo, have been paid as little as £3.50 an hour, while also being forced to continue working throughout the pandemic without access to adequate protective equipment. The factory is even said to have continued its operations despite the local lockdown, which was recently enforced in Leicester, raising concerns for the health and safety of the workers.
Boohoo said it was “appalled” by the claims, and said it took the allegations “extremely seriously”, prompting it to appoint senior barrister Alison Levitt to lead a review into conditions in its supply chain. Furthermore, the company has committed to spending an initial £10 million to “eradicate supply chain malpractice”.
Calls to boycott the brand could call into question one of its leading marketing strategies, which involves the use of Instagram influencers to promote their garments, as a growing number of influencers, including model Jayde Pierce, have distanced themselves from the brand amid the controversy.
Boohoo was set to have a successful year with an expected 25% increase in sales despite the current economic situation; however, this is now looking set to change, with shares in the firm dropping by almost half in the last week.
Standard Life Aberdeen, one of the company’s largest investors, on Friday sold two thirds of its shares in the fast fashion retailer as a result of the claims.