Boohoo chief may face investor fury at annual meet this week
(Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
ONLINE fashion retailer Boohoo’s co-founder and executive director, Carol Kane, is likely to face a big challenge this week with a controversial vote at the company’s annual meeting.
Shareholder advisory body Glass Lewis has urged investors to block her reappointment as a director after last year’s allegations that Boohoo failed to act quickly to stop poor working conditions at its Leicester factories.
Kane’s position on the board will be supported by a block vote from the Kamani family that owns more than a quarter of Boohoo’s shares.
Jupiter, Boohoo’s biggest institutional shareholder with nine per cent stake, is also planning to support her, website This is money reported.
However, some are expected to vote in line with the Glass Lewis, as the criticism does not reflect Kane’s efforts to revitalise a bunch of tarnished brands.
“What we’re doing now is far more than just regular factory audits. We’ve gone to a forensic level. We have exposed factories, we have uncovered fraudulent activity, things that you would never see in a factory audit. We’ve not only cleaned up the manufacturing base for us but for everybody else in the industry that wants to tap into it. It’s a move for good,” Kane said.
She admitted to being “humiliated” by last year’s scandal.
An investigation last July revealed that workers packing clothes for Boohoo at Leicester factories were being paid below the minimum wage and operating in unsafe conditions.
Kane insisted Boohoo will now act as “a champion” for Leicester manufacturers.
“Taking someone’s head is vengeful. But it doesn’t actually help the industry. Myself, Mahmud (Kamani co-founder and executive chairman) and John (Lyttle, chief executive) are the team that are putting this right,” she added.
Kane admitted going at “100 miles an hour” despite her principal creative role at each brand from fashion design to marketing.
“I think I’ve become the guardian within the team. I’m looking at the DNA of each brand, to hold it precious. We keep each brand team within their own floor and we don’t cross-pollinate,” she added.
The retailer recently bought fallen high street names Debenhams and Dorothy Perkins.
She recently met quality suppliers in Florence and nearby Prato to improve these brands.
Besides, Boohoo is planning to foray into cotton cultivation.
“We’re looking into growing our own cotton so we can go from farm to factory. It’s part of the big change in a large organisation that has to be responsible for the fashion it produces,” she added.
Kane highlighted a change in demand pattern as people now seek sustainable fashion.
“’There hasn’t been such a demand (for sustainable fashion) in the last few years. But I’d say that has changed in the last 12 months. Maybe with people working from home and they’ve been wearing more cotton products and natural fibres they’ve really been thinking about it a little bit more,” she said
The new generation seems to be steering the changes, she said, adding, “that tells me there’s a sea change to come.”