Boohoo’s biggest shareholders urged to oust fashion giant’s billionaire chairman after report found sweatshop conditions across its Leicester supply chain
Boohoo’s biggest shareholders have been urged to oust the fashion giant’s billionaire chairman after a report found sweatshop conditions across its Leicester supply chain.
In a letter to Jupiter, Invesco and Baillie Gifford, shadow health minister Liz Kendall said investors must remove Mahmud Kamani and chief executive John Lyttle for ‘allowing these appalling failures to take place’.
The plea came after investigators led by Alison Levitt QC revealed ‘excessive’ hours, life-threatening conditions and illegally low pay across much of the supply chain.
In the firing line: Shadow health minister Liz Kendall said investors must remove Mahmud Kamani (pictured) and John Lyttle
Boohoo knew how bad the situation was in December 2019, the report found, but months later Kamani dismissed concerns as ‘another lot of b******s’.
The board did not report possible criminal activity to police, and Lyttle was accused of seeking to frustrate Levitt’s inquiry. Kendall, Labour MP for Leicester West, said: ‘I am calling on you and Boohoo’s other shareholders to demand a new chair and chief executive to lead the changes the company and the people of Leicester desperately need.
‘It would make a mockery of any claims to support responsible investing if the same executives who allowed these appalling failures to take place, despite repeated warnings over many years, were kept in place.’
Her comments follow those from other Leicestershire MPs Claudia Webbe, Jonathan Ashworth and Conservative Andrew Bridgen calling for a shake-up.
Kamani and co-founder Carol Kane could each net a £50m bonus if Boohoo’s market capitalisation hits £7.5billion by June 2023. Last night shares closed at 355.3p, valuing it at £4.4billion.
The row over sweatshop conditions erupted in July after reports alleged Boohoo’s factories were failing to follow social distancing and paying staff as little as £3.50 an hour.
To halt its collapsing share price, Boohoo ordered the independent investigation be undertaken. It is suspected Kamani ‘covertly owns or controls many of the factories [in Leicester]’, the report said, though the chain denies this.
Peter Williams, chairman between 2014 and 2019, said that buyers felt they had to ‘almost screw these people to the floor’ to please Kamani.
Boohoo accepted all of the recommendations in the report, which accepted that Boohoo did not deliberately allow poor conditions within its supply chain.