Boohoo has urged the Government to take action to protect workers being exploited in UK garment factories.
The comapany had more than £1 billion wiped from its share value in two days after an article alleged that workers in a factory making clothes destined for Boohoo were being paid as little as £3.50 an hour.
As other retailers such as Next and Asos dropped Boohoo clothing from their websites, the company hired top lawyer Alison Levitt QC to look into the allegations which its board said left them “shocked and appalled”.
On Friday, Boohoo Group plc CEO John Lyttle sent a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel headed “protecting people being exploited in UK garment factories”.
He wrote that around 40% of Boohoo’s products were manufactured in the UK, “supporting thousands of jobs in this country that may otherwise be lost to overseas markets”.
Mr Lyttle added: “We firmly believe that ‘Made in Britain’ should be a label of pride for those wearing our clothes and badge of honour for those who make them.
“We’re taking action to investigate allegations of malpractice in our supply chain and we ask government to take action too.
He wrote that Boohoo backed calls from the British Retail Consortium and the All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) for Fashion and Textiles and Ethics and Sustainability for the Government to implement a “Fit to Trade” licensing scheme to ensure all garment factories met their legal obligations to employees.
Mr Lyttle added: “The UK has a proud history in fashion and textiles.
“A joint effort between industry and Government will ensure that the renaissance of which boohoo group has been a proud part is a key contributor to our country’s trading future.”
He argued that statutory licensing of garment factory owners and managers would protect workers and “provide an incentive for retailers and brands to invest in the UK”.
Mr Lyttle said that “as a minimum” such a scheme should cover the protection of workers from forced labour, debt bondage and mistreatment, ensure the payment of the National Minimum Wage, VAT, PAYE, National Insurance and holiday pay, and the health and safety of employees.
“These measures will also raise tax revenues for the Treasury and create a barrier that prevents rogue businesses from accessing the market and undercutting legitimate fashion manufacturing companies, creating a level playing field for businesses to compete fairly,” Mr Lyttle wrote.
Clothing firm Quiz said on Monday it believes that one of its suppliers, based in Leicester, has used a subcontractor at the centre of allegations over breaches to the national living wage – something the company is investigating.
The National Crime Agency said on July 8 that it was assessing allegations of modern slavery and exploitation in the textile industry in Leicester.