Leicester’s new Buhu factory brings back the rage trade to Britain

Boohoo’s boss insists that its new “model factory” will be a profitable production site rather than just a showroom, as Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis are being made in the UK again after moving offshore nearly three decades ago.

Buhu opened his first factory in Leicester in January, two years after the online retailer became embroiled in a scandal over mistreatment of workers in the city’s factories. The multimillion-pound site, a former VW garage in Thermaston Lane, is designed to show “best in class” standards, including a training scheme for employees who are paid more than the minimum wage and are entitled to the same vacations and benefits as others. Buhu worker.

John Little, 55, chief executive, said during a visit to the site that Buhur’s newly acquired brands would be made in the factory because it focuses on training workers to create more complex designs in recycled polyester instead of just ordinary jersey clothing. Leicester’s textile mills usually churn.

“This site will have its own profit and loss account, it is rented, it has to be a commercial operation,” Little said. “I remember as a young shopper you would come to Leicester for socks and knitwear, it was a huge textile industry but it was destroyed when everything was moved abroad. This site will show that Leicester has a great future. “

Buhu says the main advantages of UK production are speed, the ability to create items in just two weeks from design and one week on repeated orders. This contrasts with the six-month lead time of the High Street brand with foreign suppliers.

Little says: “We’ve bought some great British retail names in the last two years but the reality is they weren’t made in Britain. We’re going to make them in the UK and 40 per cent of those fabrics are sold internationally in the UK, so we’re going to re-export. “

“I think we’re going to see more companies shift to UK and European production, which we’ve seen in the last two years, and even last week with the Chinese lockdown, the importance of staying close to home increased. Shipping delays have improved since the crisis began, but container prices are still high. “

Boohoo was founded by Carroll Kane and Mahmoud Kamani in 2006 and floated with a 560 million valuation in 2014 when it was selling for £ 110 million. Since acquiring brands including PrettyLittleThing, Debenhams, Coast, Oasis and Warehouse, it has sold only £ 2 billion last year.

Kane told The Times he believes investors have moved away from the company’s Leicester scandal and have been reassured by an independent review of its supply chain overhaul and Sir Brian Levison. “We set an example, and now we are setting an example for British production. Someone had to. “

Little said that while its new rigorous audit process means it has moved from 400 factories to close to 70, it is still producing the same amount of products from Leicester as it is now working with larger factories that were able to do more work, rather than unauthorized subcontracting. Has been done. “We promise British production while others run for the hill,” he added.

The new factory, which employs about 100 people, currently produces 6,000 garments a week, and will reach 20,000 when the second shift begins. In addition to sewing and cutting, it has two high-tech printing machines that can produce 40,000 graphic printed T-shirts per week.

Buhur’s share price fell three-quarters to 86¾p, 2½p or 2.7 percent last year, with a turnover of £ 1.12 billion tonight, after it appeared significantly below that level when 2020 1 billion was removed from the company in July 2020. Some Leicester workers are being paid as low as 3.50 an hour.

Kane said: “I think investors are kicking the tires of all the ecommerce companies, everyone is stuck in it and we keep getting hurt, we get hurt when someone else misses. Also short. [sellers] But now I know it’s a better business than it was two years ago. “

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