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The Boohoo founder's ties to the Leicester slave factory were revealed


A co-founder of fashion retailer Boohoo has ties to a Leicester factory accused of paying less than the minimum wage.

The brand has confirmed that the factory, at the heart of the allegations of human trafficking and slavery, is operated by Morefray Ltd, a Manchester company that has ties to fashion company I Saw It First.

I Saw It First was founded by Jalal Kamani (60), who founded Boohoo with his brother Mahmud (55).

A director of I Saw It First and Jalal's business partners own 50 percent of Morefray and disclose the connection between Boohoo and the slave factory.

The unveiling will certainly put more pressure on Bohoo's £ 2.6 billion business, which is currently involved in allegations of "modern slavery and human trafficking" and does not protect workers against corona viruses.

Boohoo has launched an urgent investigation into its supply chain this week.

Morefray runs the slave factory in Leicester that Boohoo supplies with clothing. Morefray is a business partner of Jalal Kamani, who founded Boohoo with his brother Mahmud

Boohoo founder Mahmud Kamani, pictured right, next to his son Umar. Mahmud co-founded the company with his brother Jalal Kamani, whose ties to a slave factory in Leicester became known

Boohoo founder Mahmud Kamani, pictured right, next to his son Umar. Mahmud co-founded the company with his brother Jalal Kamani, whose ties to a slave factory in Leicester became known

Factory workers at Faiza Fashion in Leicester - where supposedly Boohoo and PLT clothing are made - operate their sewing machines despite the risk of getting Covid-19

Factory workers at Faiza Fashion in Leicester – where supposedly Boohoo and PLT clothing are made – operate their sewing machines despite the risk of getting Covid-19

It added that it was trying to identify the company at the center of the allegations, and after being addressed by the Guardian, it confirmed that the company was Morefray.

Registration in the Companies House has linked Morefray to Boohoo's founding director, Jalal Kamani, who retains a stake in the company.

Morefray is 50 percent owned by a Manchester-based company called I5 Holdings, which is owned by Shahzad Irshad, a director of I Saw It First and a business partner of Jalal Kamani.

The Companies House filing also shows that Irshad became the owner of I5 Holdings on June 10, when he took control of Zogan Limited, a company that shares three current or former directors with I Saw It First.

One of the directors of Zogan is listed on LinkedIn as a "tax manager" at the Kamani Group.

The complex web connects Morefray to I Saw It First, which Jalal Kamani founded in 2017 after Boohoo was founded.

An undercover reporter working at the Morefray factory was told to expect to pay £ 3.50 an hour.

Pictured: The employees of the Faiza fashion factory in Leicester continue to work despite the newly introduced lock

Pictured: The employees of the Faiza fashion factory in Leicester continue to work despite the newly introduced lock

Umar Kamani CEO & Founder PrettyLittleThing.com posted this picture on his Instagram page on his Rolls-Royce Dawn in Beverly Hills

Umar Kamani CEO & Founder PrettyLittleThing.com posted this picture on his Instagram page on his Rolls-Royce Dawn in Beverly Hills

When Morefray was contacted by the Guardian, he declined to comment.

A spokesman for I Saw It First said, "I5 Holdings Limited has a non-controlling interest in Morefray Limited."

A Boohoo spokesman said: “Morefray is a recognized supplier of Boohoo, and we have never had any accusations of paying below the minimum wage until the media report.

"Based on this report and the subsequent discovery that it is Morefray and not the company in the media report, we immediately visit the Morefray website to investigate further."

On Wednesday, Boohoo announced an independent review of its UK supply chain. The review, led by Alison Levitt QC, will be accompanied by an investment of £ 10m to correct misconduct in the supply chain.

Boohoo's shares dropped £ 1.3 billion after claims to have used sweatshirts in Leicester to make cheap clothing during the coronavirus pandemic.

An employee of Faiza Fashion – a factory that allegedly manufactures clothing for Boohoo and Mahmud's sons' Pretty Little Thing retailer – said the factory did not provide face masks or gloves to its workers.

And the Sunday Times reported allegations that workers in a second factory that made clothing for the Boohoo brand Nasty Gal were paid only £ 3.50 an hour and worked without social distance measures.

Umar Kamani, pictured with Tulisa Contostavlos, regularly mingles with celebrities

Umar Kamani, pictured with Tulisa Contostavlos, regularly mingles with celebrities

In undercover footage, the undercover reporter recorded that he packaged items of clothing that were clearly labeled “Nasty Gal”.

He was also approached by the factory foreman who warned: “These mothers know how to exploit people like us. They make hellish profits and pay us with peanuts.

“For example, let's say I've worked in this industry for so many years, I've been here for five years, but I could never take an appropriate salary package. I still only have a little over 5 pounds an hour. & # 39;

The results have led to an investigation by the National Crime Agency, the accusation of which Interior Minister Priti Patel has rated as "really horrific".

Ms. Patel today instructed the National Crime Agency to investigate the problems and promised to curb modern slavery in Britain.

It came when Leicester's coronavirus cases skyrocketed in June, claiming it was these factories Manufacture of items for some of the UK's largest fashion brands, including Boohoo and Nasty Gal put the staff at risk of getting Covid-19.

Umar's confidence is so great that when he wanted to launch PLT in the United States three years ago, reality TV star Kylie Jenner (pictured), half-sister of Kim Kardashian, offered a six-figure sum to appear in one of his series £ 15 orange dresses

Umar's confidence is so great that when he wanted to launch PLT in the United States three years ago, reality TV star Kylie Jenner (pictured), half-sister of Kim Kardashian, offered a six-figure sum to appear in one of his series £ 15 orange dresses

Umar poses with Little Mix at the launch of the girls band's Pretty Little Thing collection at an exclusive party at Aynhoe Park House in Banbury last year

Umar poses with Little Mix at the launch of the girls band's Pretty Little Thing collection at an exclusive party at Aynhoe Park House in Banbury last year

An NCA spokesman said, "In recent days, NCA officials, along with the Leicestershire police and other partner agencies, have visited a number of business premises in the Leicester region to assess concerns about modern slavery and human trafficking."

Asim Ali, Faiza's fashion manager, told MailOnline that all of the garments they make are for Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing (PLT).

He said: “All of our work is the same for these two companies and for all other clothing manufacturers in Leicester. We do not deal directly with them, but receive orders from medium-sized companies that are related to them.

& # 39; We opened earlier than expected during the first ban because online clothing shopping has increased so much. Since then, the work has not stopped. We get flooded with orders because so many people shop online. & # 39;

Umar took a look at PLT's 650,000 m² warehouse. PLT has helped 32-year-old Umar build up more than £ 1 billion in personal fortune

Umar took a look at PLT's 650,000 m² warehouse. PLT has helped 32-year-old Umar build up more than £ 1 billion in personal fortune

Mr. Ali added: “We used to get orders for shops on the main street, but all of that has now stopped. The fashion industry has changed in the meantime, there are constant demands on new lines, which means that we have to work even harder to make clothes. & # 39;

PLT was founded in 2012 by Mahmud's sons Adam and Umar after the tremendous success of their father's business and had a turnover of £ 374m in 2018.

The company is forecast to have a value of around GBP 2.1 billion by 2022.

The Boohoo Group bought a 34 percent stake in PLT in May for £ 269.8 million.

In 2018, MEPs – alongside Boohoo, Amazon, Asos, PrettyLittleThing, and Missguided – were asked to provide evidence during an investigation into the fast fashion industry, The Mirror reports.

Mahmud's parents, originally from India, came to Manchester from Kenya in 1969 when his father was only two years old.

The Kamanis had to flee to Britain due to increasing unrest and draconian labor laws that favored native Kenyans.

The entrepreneurial Mahmud sold handbags on a market stall. He invested his money wisely in real estate and founded a wholesale store, Pinstripe, which sourced clothing from India.

In the early 2000s, the company sold £ 50m annually to high street brands such as Topshop and Primark, which led Mahmud to launch the Boohoo brand in 2006. The company's growth skyrocketed.

According to a report by ethicalconsumer.org, John Lyttle, CEO of Boohoo, will receive a £ 1.04 million fee and, if he can add value to the company's shares, will receive his own £ 50 million fee.

Boohoo's share value rose 22 percent during the freeze as more people turned to online shopping at home, the report said.

In addition, executives saw pay increases between 18 and 30 percent.

Tatler named PLT co-founder Umar Kamani the eighth best bachelor for 2019 alongside the Duke of Roxburghe and former One Direction star Harry Styles.

His lifestyle is decidedly jet-set, with his contact book full of A-list stars like Jennifer Lopez, rapper P Diddy and actor Denzel Washington.

When he wanted to start PLT in the United States three years ago, he offered reality TV star Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian's half-sister, a six-figure sum to appear in one of his 15-pound orange dresses.

"It's all about the hustle and bustle," he says with a shrug. "I knew I wanted to be in these circles because I'm obsessed with power."

The power followed properly. The Kylie Jenner coup resulted in a tenfold increase in sales and enabled him to purchase a seven bedroom villa in the Hollywood Hills with a basketball court.

His Instagram account reveals the cartoon of a playboy – lunch in Nobu in Malibu with Gucci slippers, hanging out with P Diddy at the Grammys and Kylie Jenner at the Coachella music festival, and posing at the wheel of a yacht on the Italian Amalfi coast.

"A lot of these people are my friends," he says. & # 39; Will.I.Am a really good buddy – we FaceTime almost every day – as is P Diddy. I was also with Denzel Washington at the LA Lakers game a few weeks ago. & # 39;

Love Island stars like Molly-Mae Hague and the girls' band Little Mix are among the celebrities who have publicly supported the Pretty Little Thing brand in recent years. Other celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Khloe Kardashian, Nicole Scherzinger and Paris Hilton also carry the label.

It has helped 32-year-old Umar develop personal fortune in excess of £ 1 billion.

His wealth has allowed him to buy a fleet of cars, including two Rolls-Royce Phantoms, a £ 300,000 Lamborghini Aventador, a £ 92,000 bespoke Mercedes G-Class, and a high-end range rover .

Umar hit the headlines in May after it became known that he was on leave of 86 of his Manchester-based company while enjoying a spa in Dubai.

He made the decision shortly after the ban to use the government system, which used taxpayers' money to pay workers 80 percent of their usual income, up to a maximum of £ 2,500 a month.

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