Leicester MP calls on Boohoo bosses to be sacked

Liz Kendall MP

Leicester West MP Liz Kendall has again called on fast fashion firm’s executive chairman Mahmud Kamani and chief executive John Lyttle to step down, after she dubbed the firm’s Leicester supply chain as “one of the worst environmental, social and corporate governance scandals in modern UK history.”

Kendall was speaking at a debate yesterday (Wednesday November 18) on worker exploitation in the city’s textile sector.

Yesterday, Boohoo hired the Trainline finance booss Shaun McCabe as a non-exec to help push forward its “agenda for change” and try and improve the problems facing its Leicester supply chain.

Kendall said this was not enough, adding “It will not solve fundamental governance weaknesses where boards are still in the power of an all-powerful founder chairman”.

She also said the reaction from Boohoo’s shareholders, including Fidelity Investments, Invesco and Blackrock, had been “extremely disappointing”.

So far, only Standard Life Aberdeen has sold it shares in Boohoo after a year in Leicester to forget for the firm.

In September, an independent review into the company found that there “many failings” in its Leicester supply chain.

Alison Levitt QC was appointed to conduct the Independent Review, after a summer of headlines that alleged that conditions in Leicester factories, which primarily supply Boohoo, were putting workers at risk of Covid-19 infections and fatalities.

Levitt’s review says that there is “ample evidence” that the steps which Boohoo is now taking in relation to remedying problems in its Leicester supply chain had been implemented nearly a year ago.

The report added that the problems were a product of processes Boohoo had itself put in place and “not just a reaction” to the negative publicity in July and August. Nevertheless, said Boohoo, with the benefit of hindsight it “regrets that these processes did not advance quickly enough”.

After the report was published, Boohoo said it would improve its corporate governance, redefine its purchasing practices and raise standards across its supply chain – as well as supporting workers’ rights in Leicester.

However, Kendall remains unimpressed. Yesterday she said: “I do not think that those who had turned a blind eye to these problems over many years were the right people to take the company forward. To be clear, the executive chairman and the chief executive officer should be removed.”