BooHoo and Leicester Garment Manufacturing

We need to talk about BooHoo, and what they have done to the garment making industry in Leicester…

Buckle up, this is not a pleasant ride.

At its peak, BooHoo was making 1.5 MILLION garments a week in Leicester. Yes, you did read that correctly!

After some bad media exposure over the last few years, including:

  • Garment workers in Leicester at factories used by BooHoo  being paid well below the minimum wage
  • BooHoo using their own Leicester factory just to relabel imported goods as ‘made in UK’
  • Closing their Thurmaston Lane factory

NOW the fast fashion retailer has abandoned Leicester and taken their dirty work offshore.

Rather than just pay workers the fair price, they have chosen to avoid facing up to the problem, and they have left devastation and mass-unemployment in their wake.

Hundreds of garment manufacturers have closed down in Leicester because of BooHoo.

The textile industry in Leicester has been decimated, and workers are left with no jobs, as garment manufacturer Mick Cheema from Basic Premier points out in the below video.

And it’s not just the garment manufacturing actories that have suffered, it is the other parts of the supply chain too – the fabric knitters, trims suppliers, labelling companies and dye houses have all lost work.

So what needs to be done to rebuild and revive the garment industry in Leicester?

Leicester Garment Manufacturer Mick Cheema of Basic Premier speaks out about BooHoo at the Houses of Parliament

At a meeting at the Palace of Westminster on 27th March, organised by human rights organisation Labour Behind the Label and hosted by Natalie Bennet MP and Claudia Webb MP we heard from UK garment manufacturer Mick Cheema and representatives from ASOS about what a good partnership between brand and manufacturer looks like.

Basic Premier now works sustainably with brands like ASOS through OPEN COSTINGS, EFFICIENCY, TESTING and a SPEED-TO-MARKET that achieves a 95% sell-through.

In other words, there is little to NO WASTE. They are manufacturing only what they know the customer wants and at a price that works for both parties.

You can’t supply on demand like that when you are manufacturing offshore!

Basic Premier are training up their workers to produce a variety of different garments, so that they can adapt and flex to what their customers want.

BUT what the industry desperately needs is SUPPORT from the GOVERNMENT to stop brands like BooHoo from doing something like this again.

In his speech, Mick called for tax breaks for UK textile manufacturers. Pointing out that if there was no VAT on UK-made garments, the tax would be recouped in other ways, primarily through job creation and corporation tax.

Tax breaks on UK made goods are already enjoyed by the film and games industry if they make in the UK, so why is that not the case for fashion and textiles?

Add your thoughts to the conversation about this here.