Chinese retailer Shein lacks disclosures, made false statements about factories - report
Shein, the fast-growing Chinese online retailer, has not made public disclosures about working conditions along its supply chain that are required by law in the UK, and the company until recently falsely stated on its website that conditions in the factories it uses were certified by international labor standards bodies, Reuters has found.
In Britain, companies over a certain size must prominently state on their websites the steps they are taking to combat forced labor as part of the country’s Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Shein’s “social responsibility” page states that it “never, ever” engages in child or forced labor, but does not provide the full supply chain disclosures required by British law.
The law mandates that firms selling more than £36 million of goods globally per year must provide a statement on a searchable link available on a prominent place on its home page, dated to a financial year and signed by a director, outlining the steps it is taking to prevent modern slavery in its supply chain.
Shein declined to provide its annual revenue to Reuters, stating it does not disclose its revenue publicly. Analysts have estimated the company’s valuation at $15 billion, with annual revenue of at least $5 billion.
A spokesperson for Shein said it is in the process of finalizing statements required by UK law, and plans to publish them on its website. “We are developing comprehensive policies, which we will post on our website in the next couple of weeks,” the Shein spokesperson said on August 2. Britain’s Home Office, which is charged with enforcing the disclosure law, said it does not comment on specific cases.
In Australia, a similar law requires companies with revenue over A$100 million per year to submit an annual modern slavery statement to the Australian Border Force (ABF).
The ABF confirmed to Reuters that foreign entities exporting to Australia were required to submit a statement if their revenue was above the threshold. As of August 4, neither Shein nor its subsidiary in that country had submitted such a statement, according to a register maintained by the ABF.
Following questions from Reuters, a Shein spokesperson told Reuters that the company was compliant with Australia’s law, without elaborating on whether it believed it was not required to report or whether it had submitted a statement since Reuters’ questioning. The ABF declined to comment on Shein.
Reuters could not independently assess the working conditions in any factories used by Shein or the wages it pays. The retailer did not respond to a request for comment on what its standards for suppliers are.
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