Boohoo tells suppliers to bring manufacturing in-house

Online retailer Boohoo has ordered Leicester-based suppliers to “bring all finished goods manufacturing in-house” by 5 March.

In an email to suppliers seen by the BBC, Boohoo said suppliers that don’t own a facility or are without "the expertise and knowledge to run a factory" must buy a Cut, Make and Trim (CMT) unit.

Boohoo told suppliers the move is "a mandatory requirement and not open to negotiation".

The firm was acting following a report by barrister Alison Levitt QC into poor employment practices and worker welfare at Leicester factories supplying garments to Boohoo. 

The report, published in September 2020, said Boohoo’s monitoring of its Leicester supply chain had been “inadequate for many years”.

Levitt said the firm should "should reduce its approved suppliers to a list which contains a manageable number of companies, ideally without reducing capacity" in the following six months with "the goal of reducing and ultimately eliminating subcontracting”.

The firm confirmed the latest order was in response to Levitt’s recommendation to “consolidate its supply chain”.

In a statement Boohoo said: “As we state in our letter to suppliers, the Boohoo group is committed to growing our business in a more sustainable and transparent manner. Working with suppliers in a more strategic and sustainable way is a key part of our partnership approach to improve transparency, efficiency and accountability. 

“One of the key recommendations from the Alison Levitt QC review was to consolidate our supply chain. Supporting suppliers to bring their CMT units in house shortens our supply chain and is just one of the ways that we are helping them to build stronger more sustainable businesses that can thrive and create more UK manufacturing jobs.”

The firm did not explain how it would be supporting suppliers through the process, which has reportedly left suppliers worried about their future.

One supplier told the BBC he was concerned about potential job losses since the deadline is just one month away and many subcontractors are based miles away.

In December, Andrew Reaney, responsible sourcing boss at Boohoo, confirmed the company had parted ways with 64 suppliers following the scandal due to a “lack of transparency”.

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