The final report into fast-fashion retailer Boohoo Group has indicated that the group has made progress in addressing the criticism it received over its workers’ pay and conditions.
Two years ago, former High Court judge Sir Brian Leveson was appointed to oversee the firm’s reforms after some of its Leicester suppliers were found to be underpaying and exploiting staff, as well as making them work in dirty and unsafe conditions.
The group set out an ‘Agenda for Change’ back in September 2020 in line with the 17 recommendations senior lawyer Alison Levitt QC made in an initial review of its practices. Since then, it has overhauled its supplier network, severed ties with a number of factories and published an updated list of approved suppliers. It has also launched a new factory and funded research into local garment workers in order to make improvements.
In her fifth report, Leveson concluded that the group has “travelled a considerable distance” in the past 17 months, including navigating its way through the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
She said: “That so much has been achieved is a testament to them and to the original determination and support expressed and reinforced by the chairman Mahmud Kamani, the chief executive John Lyttle and the board. Running through the Levitt Review is the observation that Boohoo had failed to appreciate that running a great business required social responsibility as well as growth. That message has been heard, understood and is in the course of being remedied, with very substantial steps already taken to recognise the wider picture beyond commercial success.”
Leveson added that the group would face “challenges and difficulties along the way” and must ensure that “legal and ethical standards” are maintained by its own teams and the firms in its supply chain.
Boohoo has also donated £1.1 million to the Garment and Textile Workers Trust, which was set up after criticisms around the treatment of textile workers in Leicester. The trust will reveal its own research findings in a report next month (April).
A Boohoo Group spokesperson said: “The completion of Agenda for Change is a significant milestone for our business, our suppliers and most importantly the people who make the clothes we sell. The changes we have made to our business through Agenda for Change are designed to ensure that people have their rights in the workplace protected and this will not change now that the programme is complete.”