Boohoo is to build its own ‘model factory’ in Leicester following controversy in recent weeks sparked by allegations of poor working conditions at some of its suppliers' factories.
CEO John Lyttle told The Mail on Sunday that the company could begin producing its own clothing with a local joint-venture partner as soon as September. Around 250 manufacturing jobs would be created either at the new site or at a temporary factory nearby if it can’t be prepared in time.
Lyttle said that the plan would replicate the model of Spanish fast-fashion giant Inditex, which makes its own clothing.
“Number one: this factory is a commitment to UK manufacturing. But it's also about making sure we can support our growth with a level of in-house production,” Lyttle said. “Inditex have a number of joint ventures in Spain and in Portugal that they work with and that really help their flexibility - it's not dissimilar to that.”
Boohoo to begin manufacturing own clothes
He continued: “Let's get this one up and running, prove the model. And then decide and see where we go from there. We're not manufacturers but we feel confident we can execute this and we can make this factory successful.”
It follows media reports earlier this month that workers at factories in Leicester that supply clothing to Boohoo were paying staff just 3.50 pounds per hour - the minimum wage is 8.72 pounds for those aged 25 - and forcing some to work while they were sick with Covid-19.
Those reports led to the company’s shares plummeting and big-name brands like Asos, Next and Zalando pulling its brands from their sites. The company has since cut ties with two of its suppliers and has launched an independent review of its UK supply chain.
“Some of the stories have been upsetting,” Lyttle said. “Because if there's stuff wrong in Leicester I'd rather find it and fix it, not run for the hills and say, ‘That's it, we're out of here - let somebody else sort it out.’”
Photo credit: Boohoo