Boohoo has parted ways with 64 suppliers as a result of violations of the retailer’s code of conduct, MPs have been told.
Andrew Reaney, global director of responsible sourcing at Boohoo, confirmed that the firm had exited suppliers, citing a “lack of transparency” as a reason for ending supplier relationships.
Reaney, who was giving evidence as part of an inquiry by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) into fast fashion, said: “We have done a consolidation exercise. What I can say is that the businesses that we've exited have unfortunately displayed a consistent lack of transparency and transparency is key to any business relationship.”
Reaney would not confirm whether relationships with the suppliers had ended as a result of poor payment practices, but said “paying a fair living wage is obviously part of the code of conduct”.
“We found violations of the Boohoo code of conduct that we thought serious enough to unfortunately have to cease trading relationships with those companies,” he said.
Boohoo executives appeared before the committee after it was reported that factory workers producing garments for Boohoo in Leceister were being paid £3.50 an hour.
The retailer has since set out new purchasing principles and appointed retired judge Sir Brian Leveson to oversee its supply chain overhaul.
Mahmud Kamani, founder of Boohoo, who was also giving evidence to the committee, said he was “determined to fix whatever's gone wrong” at the company.
Claudia Webbe, Labour MP for Leicester East, probed Kamani on whether he believed buying practices in the fashion industry need to be regulated, after some industry bodies called for a garment trade adjudicator.
“No. I believe it's a commercial decision for buyer and seller. Buyer and seller have to agree. Our job now is to make sure that all the factories are audited and all the proper practices are put in place, and everybody abides by them. That's how we can collaborate, that's how we've got to do this,” he said.
Kamani added he felt Boohoo was being “punished” for manufacturing in the UK.
He said: “It's very easy for us to move this production offshore, but we are still big supporters of UK manufacturing. Lots of the people in the fashion industry have moved offshore. We are here and sometimes it feels we're getting punished for it.”
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.