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Britain's Boohoo defends supply chain practices after Leicester report

by Reuters
Thursday, 2 July 2020 08:19 GMT

Campaigners say they have received reports of workers being forced to come into factories while sick with COVID-19

LONDON, July 2 (Reuters) - Britain's Boohoo defended its business practices on Thursday after a garment workers' rights group said the online fashion retailer was putting workers at Leicester factories supplying the group at risk of coronavirus infection.

The allegations came after Britain imposed stringent lockdown on the East Midlands city this week following a local flare-up of coronavirus, overshadowing Prime Minister Boris Johnson's attempts to nudge the country back to normality.

Labour Behind the Label, which campaigns for workers' right, said it had received reports of "workers being forced to come into work while sick with COVID-19, workers wishing to isolate being denied pay, (and) factories operating illegally throughout lockdown".

Boohoo, which sells own-brand clothing, shoes, accessories and beauty products targeted at 16- to 40-year-olds, is by far the biggest company on London's micro cap AIM index, with a market capitalisation of 5 billion pounds ($6.3 billion).

The high-flying retailer's shares, which have risen 33% since the start of the year, slid 1% on the report. Boohoo gained more popularity during the virus lockdowns as consumers shopped more from their mobile phones.

"The Boohoo group will not tolerate any incidence of non-compliance especially in relation to the treatment of workers within our supply chain," Boohoo said.

"We have terminated relationships with suppliers where evidence of this is found."

The group said it would investigate the allegations and take any necessary action. ($1 = 0.7997 pounds)

(Reporting by Thyagaraju Adinarayan; Editing by Edmund Blair and Jan Harvey)