13 November 2010 | Helen Gilbert
New Look has appointed an independent, external auditor to investigate its supply chain, after a TV documentary exposed unacceptable working conditions in a UK factory that made clothes for the retailer.
The fashion retailer has called in Ernst & Young to scrutinise its supply chain practices after a Channel 4 Dispatches programme, ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secret’, uncovered long hours, poor pay, unsafe conditions and bullying in a Leicester factory.
A spokeswoman for New Look added the retailer had also begun its own internal review of its supply chain.
The documentary, which aired on Monday (8 November), showed workers at a Leicester business called Sammi Leisurewear. The firm was not a direct supplier to New Look but had been subcontracted to make the clothes by an official vendor.
In a statement, New Look said it shared the concerns raised by the Dispatches reporter and was aware of the issues after conducting its own detailed investigation earlier this year.
As a result of its findings, the firm said it had barred vendors in the UK from using Sammi.
The company stated:“We banned all our UK suppliers from using units such as Sammi Leisurewear based in the Imperial Typewriter Building – the location featured in the programme.
“New Look does not permit sub-contracting within its supply base, precisely so that it can comply with and monitor its ethical obligations,” its statement read. “We implement clear and direct guidelines to suppliers not to deal with unauthorised subcontractors. We are deeply disappointed to learn that these guidelines have been breached.
“Neither we, nor our authorised supplier, had knowledge that Sammi was involved in the production of our clothes and in fact, New Look has no direct knowledge of, or dealings with Sammi. Despite this, New Look will ensure that affected workers receive any monies owed.”
New Look is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, an alliance of companies working to improve workers’ lives.
Director Peter McAllister said: “We have every confidence that New Look will carry out a full and frank investigation, and will act swiftly to put things right. We will work closely with the company to ensure that these breaches are resolved in the best interests of the workers concerned.”