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Retailers questioned by MPs over mislabelled fake fur

Missguided, Boohoo and House of Fraser have been questioned by MPs in parliament about the mislabelling of real animal fur as fake fur.

An inquiry by the environment, food and rural affairs committee into the UK fur trade launched on 7 March, following a Sky News investigation in April 2017 which found some fashion retailers were selling real animal fur products, labelled as fake fur.  

During the select committee Missguided, Boohoo and House of Fraser outlined the measures they have taken to investigate the mislabelled merchandise and halt the contamination of the supply chain going forward. 

Boohoo merchandising director Paul Horsfield said: “Boohoo sent a clear message to the supplier of the real animal fur by discontinuing trade with them within a week of discovery, and for the other supplier we have stopped trading with the specific factory that supplied them with those products. For me, that is quite severe in terms of the action that we have taken.” 

Horsfield added that Boohoo had re-briefed conduct policies with their buying team to ensure that suppliers, procedures and test certificates were checked thoroughly prior to goods being shipped. 

House of Fraser’s head of sustainability Dorothy Maxwell admitted it was the department store’s responsibility to guarantee all third party brands in-store were fur-free in keeping with the retailer’s policy. 

“House of Fraser is a fur-free retailer. Overall it is our responsibility and that is why we have terms and conditions with our concessions and brands as well as our own in-house products to ensure this breach does not happen. We would never want to mislead our customers in any way which is why this instance has been deeply concerning to us.”

Interim supply chain director at Missguided, Neil Hackett, said retailers need to work with suppliers to irradiate the problem. 

Hackett said: “Sometimes just disengaging with the supply base is the easy option. What I think is more difficult is to coach, guide and educate the supply chain about how to improve. That is the same with all of our policies. If we have an ethical issue we do not just walk away, we work with suppliers to improve the issue otherwise you are just passing the issue onto someone else.”

He added that Missguided has opened a new office in south China to ensure closer monitoring of production. 

Maxwell called for the committee to investigate gaps in labelling and review the importation of fur into the UK. Meanwhile, Hackett called for more stringent commodity codes to highlight the risk of fake fur merchandise being imported into Britain. 

Fur farming was banned in the UK in 2000 and EU regulations specially ban trade in fur from domestic cats, dogs, or commercial seal hunts.

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