What happened in Leicester isn’t new

As part of our series to understand more about the situation in Leicester’s garment factories and to educate others, we detail the history of reported exploitation in the area.

15 September 2020

In 2010, Dispatches found that Leicester garment factory workers were getting paid as little as £2 per hour. Arcadia Group’s Philip Green was implicated. You can read about it here.

In 2015 ETI and University of Leicester published a report, exposing many of these poor working conditions. You can read it here. ETI then launched a programme to address these concerns. You can find out more here.

In 2017 Channel 4 investigated Leicester’s garment factories and found £3 per hour pay and poor working conditions. Some of the brands linked included New Look and River Island. You can read about it here.

In 2017, the CEOs of New Look and ASOS pressed government to do more to raise the standards of Leicester’s factories so that they could bring more business back to the UK. Read more here.

River Island, New Look and ASOS also set up an auditing platform to help raise the standards of manufacturers in the UK (check out Fast Forward). Without addressing the financial pressure they face from retailers, however, many manufacturers have gone out of business because they can’t be competitive.

In 2018 the Financial Times did an in depth investigation reporting various exploitative practices happening in Leicester factories including some of the contributing systems. Read it here.

In 2019 the Environmental Audit Committee conducted an inquiry about the fashion industry and the exploitation garment factory workers in the UK faced. It provided a number of recommendations to government, which have yet to be implemented.

*This is part of a blog series examining exploitation in the UK. To read our a summary of our thoughts on what happened in Leicester go here. To read our blog about exploitation and why it happens, go here.


Looking for help?

If you are looking for help, want to report a suspicion or are seeking advice,
call the Modern Slavery Helpline on

08000 121 700

If its an emergency and you believe someone is in imminent danger, call