Preston fashion boss caught up in Boohoo controversy is "shocked" by Pakistan sweatshop claims

The boss of a Preston clothes company is investigating claims made in a national newspaper that factories he has used in Pakistan are paying workers as little as £47 a month.

Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 12:30 pm
Boohoo's operations centre in Widdow Hill Road, Burnley

Akhter Warraich, managing director of JD Fashion Ltd, registered to a house in Tower Lane, Fulwood, has previously used AH Fashion in Faisalabad, Pakistan, to supply clothes to 'fast-fashion' brand Boohoo.

The Daily Mail has reported that insiders at the factory, and at another called Madina Gloves, said staff sometimes had to work 24-hour shifts to fulfill orders, and staff were paid 10,000 Pakistani rupees (£47) a month, which is well below the legal monthly minimum wage of 17,500 rupees for unskilled labour.

The Daily Mail also claims that AH Fashion appeared to be jeopardising the safety of workers, with garments seen piled up next to a boiler. A video showed what appeared to be scaffolding propped up with bricks throughout the site.

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Boohoo has now suspended JD Fashion Ltd, and AH Fashion from its supply chain while it investigates.

Mr Warraich said: "In the early part of the year we worked with them (the factory), but we are not working with them currently."

He added: "We are investigating the footage. I was only made aware of it yesterday and I was shocked. I know the layout of that factory, and that wasn't it at all."

He also added that he wasn't aware of the pay allegations and was "considering the future" of future dealings.

Boohoo, which has an operations centre and warehouse in Burnley, said it "will not tolerate any instance of mistreatment or underpayment of garment workers".

A spokesman for the company said: "In July, in light of concerns raised about the Groups UK supply chain, the Group commissioned an independent review of its UK supply chain. This review highlighted issues with unauthorised subcontracting in our supply chain and the Group took immediate action by deploying additional third party auditing resource both in the UK and overseas to map and audit our supply chain, with the intention of publishing our UK supplier list by March 2021 and global supplier list by September 2021.

"As part of our international compliance programme, Bureau Veritas, audit and compliance specialists, are on the ground in Faisalabad and we instructed them to immediately investigate these claims.

"As we have previously stated, we will not tolerate any instance of mistreatment or underpayment of garment workers. Our early investigations have revealed that AH Fashions was not a declared supplier by JD Fashions and that Madina Gloves has not produced any orders for boohoo since July 2019.

"We have suspended any further dealings with JD Fashions due to this breach of our code of conduct, pending further investigation by Bureau Veritas. Any supplier who does not treat their workers with the respect they deserve has no place in the boohoo supply chain.

"As instructed, Bureau Veritas visited the site of AH Fashions on December 17 and found the site to be under significant construction. The site manager and subsequently the factory manager stated that the site had been closed since the beginning of November 2020 and they provided photographic evidence to this effect.

"Undeclared subcontracting is one of the issues within the scope of our Agenda for Change to strengthen oversight in our global supply chain, which is why we commissioned Sir Brian Leveson, supported by KPMG, to undertake a root and branch review."