Boohoo products have been pulled from the Next online store after the high street retailer said the fast fashion giant “has a case to answer” over allegations of labour exploitation.
Next is understood to be the first retailer to stop listing Boohoo products after its suppliers were accused of forcing staff in Leicester garment factories to work during the lockdown with few safety measures to protect them, often on wages of as little as £3.50 an hour.
Boohoo has launched an investigation into the allegations and said it would terminate ties with any suppliers which were found to have broken its code of conduct.
Last week Next took the decision to remove all products made by Boohoo, and its brand Pretty Little Thing, from its online store.
A spokesman said: “In response to the report from Labour Behind The Label, Next concluded there is a case for Boohoo Group to answer.”
He added that Next’s usual approach to working with third-party brands is “based upon trust”, but that the allegations could not be ignored. It has launched its own investigation.
He said: “Next is not pre-judging the outcome of this process and no final decision has been made, however, while there is a case to answer, these labels will remain suspended from all Next websites”.
Fellow retailers Asos and Zalando today also temporarily delisted Boohoo brands from their websites. Zalando said the products would only return "once all corrective actions have been satisfactorily addressed by Boohoo".
Very.co.uk has also temporarily suspended the sale of brands run by Boohoo while the investigation is carried out. A spokesman said this excluded Oasis, Warehouse, Coast and Karen Millen, which were recently purchased by Boohoo.
Boohoo has been approached for comment.
The report from Labour Behind the Label alleged that workers in Leicester factories were told they would lose their jobs if they did not come in to work and, in at least one case, were forced to work after having tested positive for coronavirus.
Leicester last week became the first city to be put back into lockdown after a surge in Covid-19 cases which has been blamed on a “perfect storm” of factors.
A worker, who spoke to the Telegraph anonymously, said she was told to go into work or she would lose her job and that the factory had been operational while the doors and shutters were closed, perhaps to give the impression it was shut down.
Further newspaper reports over the weekend suggested that staff at the factory were not being paid the minimum wage.
Boohoo is investigating.
In a statement last week it said that it had visited sites in Leicester following the allegations.
A spokesman said: “We are obviously concerned about the allegations that have been made and will look into this immediately.”
The fashion retailer has grown quickly since it launched in 2006 and is now worth billions, in part because of tie ups with celebrities on social media.
It said in April that its sales had boomed during lockdown amid a surge in demand for smart tops for Zoom calls and joggers for home working.