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Boohoo founder vows to fix supply chain failings

LONDON, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Mahmud Kamani, the co-founder and executive chairman of British online fashion retailer Boohoo , on Wednesday told lawmakers he would fix the group’s supply chain failings.

In September, Boohoo accepted all the recommendations of an independent review which found major failings in its supply chain in England after newspaper allegations about working conditions and low pay, and set out steps to tackle the problems.

Last month the group, which sells own-brand clothing, shoes, accessories and beauty products targeted at 16- to 40-year-olds, appointed retired judge Brian Leveson to independently check its “Agenda for Change” programme.

“We have made some mistakes but over the last 14 years we’ve got more right than wrong and we’ve a very very fast growing business,” Kamani said in evidence to parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, which is examining fashion sustainability.

“I’m determined to fix whatever’s gone wrong and I understand things have gone wrong because of the fast growing nature of this business,” he said.

Kamani, who along with Carol Kane founded Boohoo in 2006 and listed it on the stock exchange in 2014, said all at the group were “seeking to make a better Boohoo.”

“That’s why we started the Agenda for Change and commissioned Brian Leveson.”

Kamani said “what we are guilty of, if anything” was not developing processes quickly enough to keep up with the group’s growth.

“We recognise in this industry, when we’re dealing with an independent factory who’s not owned by us... some of them don’t play with a straight bat as it were. But we try our best to make good,” he said.

Andrew Reaney, Boohoo’s responsible sourcing and product operations director, told the committee that over the last year the firm had ended relationships with 64 suppliers and factories in Leicester for violating its code of conduct.

Despite its supply chain problems Boohoo has traded strongly through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its shares closed Wednesday up 3.9% at 300.5 pence, valuing the business at 3.8 billion pounds ($5.1 billion). The stock listed at 50 pence in 2014. ($1 = 0.7412 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey Editing by Alexandra)

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