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25 Sep 2020

Alison Levitt QC

Independent Review into the boohoo Group PLC’s Leicester supply chain

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"Independent Review into the boohoo Group PLC's Leicester supply chain", 24 September 2020

This Independent Review was commissioned following publication of an article on 5th July 2020 by the Sunday Times newspaper, in which it alleged unacceptable working conditions and underpayment of workers in factories making clothes for boohoo Group PLC...

I have reached the conclusion that the true reason that Boohoo did not become more involved in monitoring conditions in Leicester was that it saw it as being a lower priority than matters which directly affected the company (such as commercial issues or their own employees)....

In summary, my findings are...

(1) There is no evidence that the company itself or its officers have committed any criminal offences;

(2) I am satisfied that the allegations about poor working conditions and low rates of pay in many Leicester factories are not merely well-founded but substantially true;

(3) Boohoo’s monitoring of its Leicester supply chain was inadequate and this was attributable to weak corporate governance;

(4) From (at the very latest) December 2019, senior Boohoo Directors knew for a fact that there were very serious issues about the treatment of factory workers in Leicester and whilst it put in place a programme intended to remedy this, it did not move quickly enough;

(5) Boohoo ought to have appreciated the serious risks created by ‘lockdown’ in relation to potential exploitation of the workforce of the Leicester factories. It capitalised on the commercial opportunities offered by lockdown and believed that it was supporting Leicester factories by not cancelling orders, but took no responsibility for the consequences for those who made the clothes they sold....