New Look’s chief executive has stated that the “vast majority” of UK clothing factories have worse ethical standards than China, Bangladesh and Burma.
According to The Times, Anders Kristiansen accused British factories of underpaying staff and failing health and safety standards. He also accused New Look’s rivals of deliberately ignoring the issue.
He said the problem is widespread to the extent that New Look has stopped using over 100 UK factories over the last three years due to carrying out “so many” audits that didn’t meet standards.
“People just don’t care — they care about standards in Asia but not on their own doorstep,” Kristiansen said.
“I don’t want to be a part of it. Our competitors don’t see it the same way. They know about the problem but don’t want to fix it.
“The vast majority of all UK factories have issues with health and safety and salaries. They have people on benefits and pay them a couple of pounds an hour. We’ve audited so many factories and they just don’t pass.”
The retailer has ramped up its presence in Burma, and still produces most of its products from China and Bangladesh. He added that “the factories we work with have better standards”.
The accusations follow a Channel 4 Dispatches expose in which workers in a factory in Leicester, found to be producing clothes for New Look, were paid £3.50 per hour.
After the factory was found to be working for TS Knitwear, a New Look supplier, the retailer said “TS Knitwear has subcontracted…. orders to this factory without our knowledge or consent.
“We have terminated our relationship with TS Knitwear with immediate effect… and will be working closely with the business to support all its workers who will be affected.”
Kristiansen said that although using UK locations would make New Look’s supply chain more efficient, he would not use more until factories ethics had been cleaned up.
“We want to be 100 per cent ethical in what we do,” he said.