Boohoo loses £1 billion off its value after ‘modern slavery’ claims

Workers in one supplier factory were allegedly paid £3.50 an hour, with no access to hand sanitiser or masks to protect against coronavirus

Boohoo, the online fashion retailer behind brands like Pretty Little Thing and Nasty Gal, has had more than £1 billion wiped off its value this Monday (July 6) after reports of “modern slavery” at a Leicester garment factory.

The news comes after a surge of coronavirus cases in Leicester, linked to the cramped factories supplying garments to fashion retailers. According to a report by The Sunday Times, workers at one factory making clothes for Nasty Gal were found to be earning as little as £3.50 an hour (the minimum wage in Britain for those aged 25 and over is £8.72), with no access to hand sanitiser or the ability to social distance while working. The factory was also operating at full capacity despite Leicester going into a localised lockdown last week, as the government aims to contain and slow the spread of COVID-19 in the area.

Clothes made by suppliers in Leicester are behind a rapid sales growth for the company, especially during lockdown, putting its bosses in line for hefty bonuses worth up to £150 million. Since Monday, the first day since allegations about its supply chain came to light, shares in Boohoo have fallen 23 per cent, knocking £1.1 billion off Boohoo’s value on the AIM market in London, reducing it to £3.7 billion. Online retailers ASOS, Next, and Zalando have also dropped Boohoo products from their sites.

Boohoo said the conditions at the factory were “totally unacceptable and fall woefully short of any standards acceptable in any workplace”. It has promised to terminate relationships with any of its suppliers that fall short of its code of conduct.