Fashion brands Nike, Boohoo and H&M deny Uyghur forced labour allegations

Multiple fashion brands such as Nike (NKE), Boohoo (BOO.L), H&M (HM-B.ST) and North Face-owner VF (VFC) have denied allegations of forced labour in their supply chains in the Xinjiang region in China.



a man and a woman taking a selfie: AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - DECEMBER 29: People take part in a demonstration against Chinas persecution of Uighurs in Xinjiang, at Dam Square in Amsterdam, Netherlands on December 29, 2019. Chinas Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45% of Xinjiangs population, has long accused Chinas authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination. Up to one million people, or about 7% of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of political re-education camps, according to U.S. officials and UN experts. In a report last September, Human Rights Watch accused the Chinese government of carrying out a systematic campaign of human rights violations against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. (Photo by Abdullah Asiran/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)


AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – DECEMBER 29: People take part in a demonstration against Chinas persecution of Uighurs in Xinjiang, at Dam Square in Amsterdam, Netherlands on December 29, 2019. Chinas Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45% of Xinjiangs population, has long accused Chinas authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination. Up to one million people, or about 7% of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of political re-education camps, according to U.S. officials and UN experts. In a report last September, Human Rights Watch accused the Chinese government of carrying out a systematic campaign of human rights violations against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. (Photo by Abdullah Asiran/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The brands and retailers expressed “shock” over allegations regarding the forced labour of Uyghur Muslims, as they were questioned by MPs at the Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS) committee.

It has been alleged that products involving Uyghur slave labour could be sold to UK consumers.

Reports suggest that 1 million Uyghur are being held in internment camps in the northern Chinese province.

The group director of responsible sourcing at Boohoo, Andrew Reaney, told MPs at the committee that the online retailer was “shocked” by reports regarding the Uyghurs and what’s happening in the region.

Reaney said: “We wrote to all our suppliers across the supply chain to confirm that we have no manufacturing or fabric links to that particular region.

“That was done and all of our suppliers confirmed that they have no manufacturing or fabric links to that region.” He stressed that Boohoo does “not knowingly source any yarn or fabric” from the region.

MPs questioned auditing processes at the business after PwC resigned as Boohoo auditor following concerns over the working conditions in its UK supply chain.

It comes after Boohoo has been accused of paying workers in its Leicester supply chain as little as £3.50 ($4.60) an hour — far below the minimum wage of £8.72.

A review into the allegations was conducted by Alison Levitt QC in September and found “many failings” but it ultimately cleared Boohoo from allegations of deliberately allowing poor conditions and low pay for garment workers.

Other reports also alleged that the company may have relied on factories in Leicester that did not close during the first UK lockdown, which could have contributed to the second wave coronavirus outbreak in the city.

Levitt’s review recommended “improvements to Boohoo’s related corporate governance, compliance and monitoring processes.”

Watch: H&M cuts ties with Chinese supplier over forced labour allegations

READ MORE: Amazon, Nike, and IKEA questioned by MPs over alleged forced labour links

Meanwhile, David Savman, head of supply chain at H&M, said the Swedish-based retailer worked with accreditation groups for its supply chain

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Fashion brands Nike, Boohoo and H&M deny Uighur forced labour allegations

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - DECEMBER 29: People take part in a demonstration against Chinas persecution of Uighurs in Xinjiang, at Dam Square in Amsterdam, Netherlands on December 29, 2019. Chinas Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45% of Xinjiangs population, has long accused Chinas authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination. Up to one million people, or about 7% of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of political re-education camps, according to U.S. officials and UN experts. In a report last September, Human Rights Watch accused the Chinese government of carrying out a systematic campaign of human rights violations against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. (Photo by Abdullah Asiran/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
It is believed that 1 million Uyghur are being held in internment camps in the northern Chinese province. Photo: Abdullah Asiran/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Multiple fashion brands such as Nike (NKE), Boohoo (BOO.L), H&M (HM-B.ST) and North Face-owner VF (VFC) have denied allegations of forced labour in their supply chains in the Xinjiang region in China.

The brands and retailers expressed “shock” over allegations regarding the forced labour of Uyghur Muslims, as they were questioned by MPs at the Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS) committee.

It has been alleged that products involving Uyghur slave labour could be sold to UK consumers.

Reports suggest that 1 million Uyghur are being held in internment camps in the northern Chinese province.

The group director of responsible sourcing at Boohoo, Andrew Reaney, told MPs at the committee that the online retailer was “shocked” by reports regarding the Uyghurs and what’s happening in the region.

Reaney said: “We wrote to all our suppliers across the supply chain to confirm that we have no manufacturing or fabric links to that particular region.

“That was done and all of our suppliers confirmed that they have no manufacturing or fabric links to that region.” He stressed that Boohoo does “not knowingly source any yarn or fabric” from the region.

MPs questioned auditing processes at the business after PwC resigned as Boohoo auditor following concerns over the working conditions in its UK supply chain.

It comes after Boohoo has been accused of paying workers in its Leicester supply chain as little as £3.50 ($4.60) an hour — far below the minimum wage of £8.72.

A review into the allegations was conducted by Alison Levitt QC in September and found “many failings” but it ultimately cleared Boohoo from allegations of deliberately allowing poor conditions and low pay for garment workers.

Other reports also alleged that the company may have relied on factories in Leicester that did not close during the first UK lockdown, which could have contributed to the second wave coronavirus outbreak in the city.

Levitt’s review recommended “improvements to Boohoo’s related corporate governance, compliance and monitoring processes.”

Watch: H&M cuts ties with Chinese supplier over forced labour allegations

READ MORE: Amazon, Nike, and IKEA questioned by MPs over alleged forced labour links

Meanwhile, David Savman, head of supply chain at H&M, said the Swedish-based retailer worked with accreditation groups for its supply chain which stopped buying cotton in the Xinjiang region in light of the reports.

“When these serious allegations came up we made investigations into all of our suppliers,” he told MPs.

“We didn’t find any proof of any breach of our sustainability commitments, where we have very clear guidance of how our ethical processes should happen.”

The vice president of global footwear sourcing and manufacturing at Nike, Jaycee Pribulsky, said the US group was “deeply concerned” about the situation in the region.

Pribulsky told MPs: “Nike does not source any raw cotton. And regarding Xinjiang, Nike has confirmed with its suppliers that

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Fashion giant Boohoo failed to sack ANY senior staff over the working conditions scandal

Fashion giant Boohoo failed to sack ANY senior staff over the working conditions scandal at one of its suppliers

  • Damning report previously found allegations of poor working practice were true
  • It concluded Boohoo knew of ‘endemic’ problems within its Leicester suppliers
  • Boohoo accepted findings and apologised but has not sacked any senior staff 

Fast-fashion giant Boohoo has failed to sack any senior staff over the working conditions scandal at one of its suppliers, it emerged yesterday. 

MPs said it showed the retailer had ‘no accountability’. 

In September, a damning report found allegations of poor working practices in the company’s supply chain were ‘substantially true’. 

Fast-fashion giant Boohoo has failed to sack any senior staff over the working conditions scandal at one of its suppliers, it emerged yesterday (stock image)

Fast-fashion giant Boohoo has failed to sack any senior staff over the working conditions scandal at one of its suppliers, it emerged yesterday (stock image)

It concluded Boohoo knew of ‘endemic’ problems within its Leicester suppliers, including poor conditions and minimum wage breaches. 

Factories were found to have locked fire doors, filthy toilets, buildings in ‘deplorable’ condition and ‘no wholesome drinking water’. 

Boohoo's Andrew Reaney (pictured) said: 'Nobody got sacked internally'

Boohoo’s Andrew Reaney (pictured) said: ‘Nobody got sacked internally’ 

Boohoo accepted the findings and apologised. 

Yesterday Darren Jones, chairman of the Commons business select committee, asked if any senior staff were sacked over Boohoo’s ‘gross misconduct’ and the ‘harm suffered by so many low-paid workers’. 

Boohoo’s Andrew Reaney said: ‘Nobody got sacked internally.’ 

Mr Jones later commented: ‘My understanding of accountability is that there are consequences for one’s actions.’ 

Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, who first raised the alarm, said: ‘This undermines any confidence the public might have that there is going to be systemic change within the business. 

‘It shows the rot goes right to the top. If it was just a few rogue managers, you’d expect them to get rid of them.’ 

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ASOS v. Boohoo – The Rise, Fall And Rise Of Fast Fashion

ASOS Results show profit increase of 329% whilst Boohoo September Results profits surged 47% to £449m

ASOS CEO Nick Beighton is concerned about Christmas despite ASOS profits increasing by 329% to £142m in the year to August 31, with group revenue up 19% to £3.26bn. His customers have seen their lives change significantly – less glam swimwear, unicorn inflatables and holidays. Hardly any weddings, cancelled holidays and virtual graduation ceremonies. Yet a lot more sales of pyjamas and leisurewear – especially tops – for all the Zoom calls.

The number of active ASOS customers rose by 3.1 million to 23.4 million as more shoppers turned to online fashion during the pandemic. Yet Beighton will know that there has been a surge in online use and browsing – UK adults spent a quarter of their waking day online during lockdown, and that has intensified the disruption from challenger brands – new and existing.

The e-tailer remains cautious due to uncertainty around golden quarter spending and further concerns about future unemployment amongst its 20- something customer. 

There is much uncertainty across the fashion market regarding spending in the run up to Christmas and ASOS is famed for its partywear, which is popular with its key demographic. 

Following the latest three-tier measures in effect in the UK and tighter restrictions on out-of-home socialising within retail and hospitality venues across several regions, demand for going out clothes may drastically decrease and this is something Beighton says ASOS has considered within its golden quarter buying plan,

“We detuned party gear and going-out gear, particularly dresses and shirts. 

“We’ve dialled up to offer more width in casual wear, sportswear and beauty products, as well as extending our core ranges.”

The fashion e-tailer pivoted its product mix in the second half to cater to demand for popular lockdown categories like loungewear, activewear and health and beauty. With the new tier system in place, the e-tailer may see more fragmented patterns of demand as consumers in different regions find themselves socialising or at home over the festive period. 

Future Fears for Generation Z

The latest ONS figures showed that between June and August 2020, 60% of people who became unemployed were aged 16-24, this is something that Beighton is “very worried about”.

Gen Z expert Jason Dorsey in an interview with CNBC talks about a defining moment for 16-25 year olds: “The pandemic impacts decisions on everything, from where they live, to cars and the type of company they would go to work for.”

And ethics is certainly something that has been a hot-topic for ASOS competitor fast-fashion pureplay Boohoo that also has benefited from a surge in sales due to Covid19.

The retailer, which also includes brands Boohoo Man, PrettyLittleThing, Nasty Gal, Karen Millen, Coast and now Oasis and Warehouse, pivoted its collections to reflect lockdown trends towards products like loungewear.

Boohoo reported that for the six months to August 31

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