Boohoo’s transformation programme puts end to modern slavery allegations

By guest author  Jacqui Parr from Charged Retail.

Boohoo’s Agenda for Change (A4C) transformation programme has has been declared a ‘success’ as the group has met its targets, putting an end to the modern slavery allegations and supply chain failings which have been its focus for the past two years.

Sir Brian Leveson’s fifth and final report for the fast fashion giant was published today, confirming that the group has completed the work identified from the recommendations initially laid out by Alison Levitt QC.

The independent review, governed by KPMG, outlined steps to tackle the ongoing supply chain issues, including responsible purchasing practices, sustainability and ethical compliance. Following extensive work over the last 24 months, the group has met its targets and is now able to move into a ‘business as usual’ phase.

As part of this work, Boohoo has set out a clear strategy to combat modern slavery as part of the A4C programme and will now require suppliers to be verified under an independent system.

It will also launch 23 key performance indicators to help manage these practises.

Under the new Supplier Hub plan, suppliers will need independent approval across sourcing, ethical compliance, factory approver and finance. Buyers will not be able to raise a purchase order from suppliers outside the system.

The A4C programme was first introduced in 2020 to help the online fashion giant improve corporate governance and raise standards, following following modern slavery allegations linked with its Leicester supply chain which included poor working practices, low pay and unsafe conditions.

As part of the ongoing work, Boohoo overhauled its Leicester supply chain and pledged to be more transparent, cutting ties with some suppliers and publishing a 1100-strong list of its international partners.

“In a few respects, it continues to be work in progress, but the transformation is such that it is now at the point at which it can move into business as usual,” Levinson said in his report.

“The engagement of all at Boohoo with all involved in providing independent oversight has been exemplary.”

He also warned the group of the danger of losing focus “in the fast moving industry that is fashion”,
pointing out that “it will be too easy (and not at all unusual) for attention to move to other pressing issues and to drift from the new ways of working.”

“This movement does not signify the beginning of the end of the process but merely the end of the beginning.”