Undercover investigation finds Boohoo's Manchester office pressured suppliers

The investigation found that the clothing brand was pressuring suppliers to lower their prices, even after an order had been completed. Credit: PA Images

An undercover investigation has found Boohoo pressured suppliers to bring prices down.

The ten-week investigation by BBC Panorama sent an undercover reporter into the clothing company's Manchester head office.

Panorama has said its undercover reporter was told to process a 5% reduction on more than 400 orders that had already been agreed, saving the company thousands of pounds.

The investigation came after the company overhauled its ethical practices in 2020, due to a previous scandal.

In 2020, newspapers reported that workers at a Leicester factory making clothes for Boohoo earned less than minimum wage and worked in unsafe conditions.

Boohoo's head office on Dale Street, Manchester Credit: Google Maps

This led to an independent review, with Alison Levitt KC describing the allegations as "substantially true".

Boohoo accepted all of the recommendations given by the review, and pledged to fix the problems with their supply chain.

Recommendations included training its buyers to know what a fair price would be to ensure the supplier can pay its workers.

However, in the Panorama documentary, BBC reporter Emma Lowther said those promises were undermined, with staff encouraged to pressure suppliers for discounts.

While undercover, Emma is also told by a Boohoo employeee she consistently lies to suppliers to drive down costs.

The employee said: "Just say you can get it cheaper elsewhere... I'm just lying. I just lie."

A Boohoo group spokesman said: “Like all businesses, we have experienced significant cost inflation over the last year, which we have absorbed in order to maintain affordable prices for customers.

“As the cost of raw materials, freight and energy started to come down, the group asked its suppliers to reflect this in their pricing through discounts of between one and 10%, and we passed the savings onto customers”.

“Boohoo has not shied away from dealing with the problems of the past and we have invested significant time, effort and resource into driving positive change across every aspect of our business and supply chain,” the spokesperson said.

“The action we’ve taken has already delivered significant change and we will continue to deliver on the commitments we’ve made.”

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