LONDON – Confidential audit reports obtained by the Guardian newspaper show that fast fashion retailer Boohoo has been selling clothes made by at least 18 factories in Leicester that audits say have failed to prove they pay the minimum wage. Boohoo, which also owns PrettyLittleThing, Nasty Gal and Miss Pap, is currently undergoing an ‘independent’ investigation into its supply chain led by led Alison Levitt QC, with the results expected within the next month.
However, the third-party audit reports obtained by the Guardian – and dating back to 2017 – show that a range of issues have been highlighted in audits on Boohoo suppliers. These include workers not clocking in and out of shifts, suggesting they worked longer than officially recorded, discrepancies in working hours records, making it impossible to verify payment of the minimum wage and working hours records that were contradicted by workers in interviews.
The fact that these audit reports exist proves that Boohoo must have been aware of these issue and makes a mockery of its claims to have been “shocked” by the outcome of the Sunday Times investigation which offered evidence of modern slavery in Boohoo supply chains in July.
The new findings highlighted in the audit reports uncovered by the Guardian goes completely against the brand’s insistence that the issues first highlighted in July were simply evidence of “the actions of a few.”
Claudia Webbe, the MP for Leicester East, where many of the factories are based, has called on Boohoo to urgently release a full list of its suppliers in the city. Boohoo is an outlier on the issue of supplier transparency – one of the few major brands not to make its supplier list public despite repeated requests to do so over the past few years.
Boohoo has claimed the documentation seen by the Guardian “appears to be a selection of commentary from a limited number of the third-party audits that have been completed.”