Boohoo put ‘Made in the UK’ labels on potentially thousands of clothes made in South Asia.
Plain T-shirts and hoodies from the fast fashion firm had their original labels removed at Boohoo’s flagship factory in Thurmaston Lane in Leicester, last year, a BBC Panorama investigation has found.
The revelation comes after the BBC last week reported the company is considering closing the site.
Boohoo said the incorrect labelling was due to a misinterpretation of the labelling rules.
Thurmaston Lane opened in 2022 and was promoted by the retailer as a UK manufacturing centre of excellence, offering end-to-end garment production in Britain.
The mislabelling exposed by the BBC took place at the factory and affected up to one in 250 of Boohoo’s global supply of garments between January and October of 2023.
The BBC estimated it could amount to hundreds of thousands of wrongly labelled garments – but said the retailer would not provide precise figures.
Boohoo claims it was an isolated incident which had happened as a result of human error, with a company spokesperson telling the BBC: “We have taken steps to ensure this does not happen again.”
The garments had been shipped from Pakistan and other countries in South Asia to Boohoo’s Leicester factory where they were printed on to the clothes.
Sylvia Rook, lead officer for fair trading at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said that based on information provided by Panorama, replacing country-of-origin labels with ‘Made in the UK’ ones was “incorrect” and could “potentially mislead consumers”.
The MP Philip Dunne, who is chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, called the labelling findings a potentially very serious allegation.
He told the BBC: “Consumers should not be misled as to the source of garments that they’re buying.”
Boohoo pledged to overhaul its working practices in 2020, following reports that staff at a factory making its clothes in Leicester were earning less than the minimum wage, and that working conditions were unsafe.