The boss of Boohoo has insisted that its new “model factory” will be a profitable production site rather than just a showroom as Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis clothes are being made in the UK again after moving offshore almost three decades ago.
Boohoo opened its first factory in Leicester in January, two years after the online retailer was engulfed in a scandal about the poor treatment of workers in the city’s factories. The multimillion-pound site, a former VW garage on Thurmaston Lane, has been designed to show “best in class” standards, including training schemes for workers, who are paid above the minimum wage and are entitled to the same holidays and benefits as other Boohoo staff.
John Lyttle, 55, chief executive, said on a tour of the site that more of Boohoo’s newly acquired brands would be made in the factory as it focused on training workers to produce more complicated designs on recycled polyester, rather than just the simple jersey dresses Leicester’s textile factories typically churn out.
“This site will have its own profit and loss account, it is charged rent, it has to be a commercial operation,” Lyttle said. “I can remember as a young buyer you would come to Leicester for socks and knitwear, it was a huge textile industry but when everything shifted overseas it was decimated. This site will show that Leicester does have a great future.”
Boohoo says the major advantage of UK manufacturing is speed, with the ability to produce items in just two weeks from design and one week on a repeated order. This contrasts with the six-month lead times that high street brands typically have with overseas suppliers.
Lyttle said: “We have bought some great British retail names in the past two years but the fact is they weren’t making in Britain. We are going to be making them in Britain and 40 per cent of those clothes in the UK are sold internationally, so we’ll be exporting again.”
“I think we’ll see more companies…
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