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25 Mar 2021

Giulia Bottaro, Proactive

UK: Business & Human Rights experts criticise Boohoo’s efforts to address labour rights violations in UK supply chain

“Boohoo cleans up UK supply chain but still ‘miles behind’ competitors, experts say”, 25 March 2021

boohoo Group … is not about to become the poster child for sustainability efforts after publishing its list of UK suppliers on Thursday.

The fast-fashion clothier has made an effort to boost transparency following reports of poor working practices in its Leicester supply chain last July and a subsequent investigation.

Former High Court judge Sir Brian Leveson, who was appointed to provide independent oversight, said “it is clear that few, if any, companies undertaking due diligence of their supply chains have gone to the lengths undertaken by Boohoo and for which it deserves credit.”

But according to Thulsi Narayanasamy, senior labour rights lead at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, this is just “the bare minimum”.

“[What] they have done needs to be looked at in that context, which is that it's good, but it's coming very, very late,” she told Proactive.

“The critical point here is that has always been miles behind their competitors when it comes to any human rights due diligence in their supply chain. They have been so far behind for so long and that distance still remains. You’d have their rivals who have been undertaking due diligence, and learning from that due diligence, for years and years.”

Having cut so many suppliers, Narayanasamy questioned whether factories will be able to keep up with production volumes without resorting to unauthorised subcontractors, and what system boohoo will have in place to ensure that it won’t happen.