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Burnley-based Boohoo signs up to tougher ethical standards regime in wake of £3 an hour pay scandal

Online fashion giant boohoo has agreed to sign up to a forensic supply chain initiative as part of the company’s attempts to improve its image.

Boohoo has faced criticism in recent years after the company’s use of suppliers in the UK revealed staff at some were paid as little as £3 an hour.

The decision to sign up to Fast Forward, a sector-leading auditor that already has members including Asos and M&S, comes as Sir Brian Leveson published his latest review into the business.

Sir Brian, who is leading an independent review into boohoo’s supply chain practices, said the company’s due diligence may now go beyond some of its rivals.

He said: “In my numerous discussions with directors and managers at boohoo, I remain encouraged by the determination of all to address the issues which were exposed last year and to both promote and embed a new way of working to the highest ethical standards.”

Three reports have now been published by the retired judge.

Bosses said they remain committed to publishing a global supplier list in September this year and continue to review their entire manufacturing supplier base.

The company’s co-founders, Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane, said: “We are extremely proud of the incredible amount of change our teams have delivered, with the group making exceptional progress over the last 11 months in developing a robust, fair and transparent supply chain, which is recognised in Sir Brian’s latest report.

“As a group we are on track to meet all of the commitments that we set out last year and we remain committed to setting the bar, to drive measurable and sustainable change.”

Fast Forward was launched in 2014 and aims to uncover audit evasion and hidden exploitation, including forced labour.

It also assesses whether suppliers are potentially breaking employment laws and adhering to ethical labour standards.

The latest plans for boohoo come as the company revealed the reopening of non-essential clothes shops failed to dampen sales at its online-only operation.

Sales in the three months to the end of May soared 32 per cent to £486.1million, with the UK seeing the strongest growth across its biggest regions.

Sales in the UK were up 50 per cent to £274.6million, followed by the US, up 43 per cent to £131.9million.

But there were falls in Europe and other global regions, the company added.

Boosts in total sales were in part due to the successful integration of Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton brands onto its platform after buying them from Arcadia administrators for £25.2million.

Boohoo also launched a new online-only Debenhams store, buying the brand rights for £55million.

In both cases, all stores were closed, leading to thousands of job losses.

Chief executive John Lyttle said: “I am delighted with our performance in the first quarter, particularly as it was always going to be challenging to produce strong growth rates on last year, when lockdowns around the globe drove such high traffic to online retailers.”

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