Boohoo hires retired judge Leveson to oversee ethics

Manchester-based online fashion giant Boohoo Group plc — which has been under scrutiny for its corporate governance — said on Thursday it appointed retired judge Brian Leveson to independently monitor its attempts to improve its supply chain and business practices.

Boohoo has faced concerns about working conditions and pay rates in factories that supply the company.

Boohoo said in September the independent review of its UK supply chain led by Alison Levitt QC “identified many failings in the Leicester supply chain and recommended improvements to Boohoo’s related corporate governance, compliance and monitoring processes.”

Boohoo’s brands also include prettylittlething.com and Nasty Gal as well as Oasis, Warehouse, MissPap, Karen Millen and Coast.

In a stock exchange statement, Boohoo said: “Boohoo is pleased to announce that it has appointed Sir Brian Leveson PC to provide independent oversight of the Group’s Agenda for Change programme so as to deliver long-lasting and meaningful change to the group’s supply chain and its business practices.

“Sir Brian will report directly to the board and his reports will be published, thereby bringing both transparency and further independence to the process.

“He has also appointed both legal, and independent enquiry and enforcement specialists to supplement the Agenda for Change programme to ensure that everyone associated with the Group’s supply chain is treated fully in accordance with the law and the principles of ethical trading.

“In recent weeks, and as part of significant and continuing investment by the group in this area, significant steps have been taken to put in place the platform that will facilitate delivery of the Agenda for Change programme.

“The Group has appointed KPMG to assist with the programme, bringing additional resource, expertise and independence to the process. KPMG will work with the group’s growing responsible sourcing and compliance team, and existing supply chain auditors Bureau Veritas and Verisio.

Boohoo executive chairman Mahmud Kamani said: “I am encouraged by the progress that has been made to date by our teams since setting out our Agenda for Change programme in September.

“Myself and the board are fully committed to this programme, with the appointments of Sir Brian Leveson and KPMG bringing independent oversight, additional expertise and further transparency to a programme that will help us on our journey to lead the fashion e-commerce market globally in a transparent manner.”

Leveson said: “Boohoo has recognised that it must institute and embed change so that everyone involved in the group’s supply chain is treated fully in accordance with the law and the principles of ethical trading. 

“I look forward to providing independent oversight of the Agenda for Change programme and to working with the boohoo team, KPMG and the other independent experts to achieve this, while, at the same time, providing publicly available progress reports.”

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Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.