Asos and New Look’s chief executives have issued a warning over working conditions in UK textile factories, stating that workers are “exploited and paid far below minimum wage”.
Two of the UK’s most prominent fast fashion retailers have spoken out against working conditions in some Leicester textile factories, which are reportedly preventing the return of overseas manufacturing.
They warned that a potential resurgence in the country’s manufacturing industry, amid a concerted push to fortify domestic output amid Brexit, could be halted due to “sweatshop” practices.
Anders Kristiansen, who said earlier this month that UK factories had poorer working conditions than Bangladesh, told The Telegraph it was a “ticking time bomb”.
“Many of these factories have unsafe conditions with fire escapes blocked up, workers exploited and paid far below minimum wage,” he said.
“What happens if there is another massive fire, what will it take for people to wake up?”
He added that New Look would be able to double its £35 million orders from Leicester factories, preventing costly importation of goods, but he was “afraid of using these units because what is going on is just so plainly wrong”.
Asos boss Nick Beighton joined Kristiansen in his condemnation of poor working practices in UK factories and added that he was keen “to triple the amount of product we source from the UK over the next five years”.
The pair will meet the mayor of Leicester in October, alongside HM Revenue and Customs, the police and the fire brigade to discuss ways to tackle the growing problem in UK factories.