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Asos CEO says he has ‘nothing to hide’ over warehouse allegations

Asos chief executive Nick Beighton has slammed reports over the mistreatment of the etailer’s warehouse staff, saying the etailer has “nothing to hide” and lots “to be proud of”.

Asos' warehouse in Barnsley

Asos’ warehouse in Barnsley

The Asos warehouse in Barnsley

Last month, Buzzfeed News alleged that staff at its Barnsley distribution centre, which is run by XPO Logistics, are subjected to “hot working conditions, frequent security searches and high levels of surveillance”.

Beighton has denied the claims, saying they are “inaccurate and misleading”.

“Where we’ve been able, we have tried to set the record straight, but some misrepresentation continues. I lead the Asos management team so I know how seriously we take our responsibilities as an employer. I take huge exception to the idea that we are secretive and exploit our people. We have nothing to hide and much to be proud of,” Beighton said in a statement.

He added that Asos doesn’t pretend to be perfect and the team is “learning all the time”.

The firm said it takes the welfare of its 7,000-strong UK workforce “very seriously” and the allegations about working conditions are “inaccurate or based on out-of-date information”.

Asos said there have been “concerted efforts” to unionise its warehouse over the last five years, but the union has “repeatedly failed” to achieve the required percentage membership of its workforce.

The business has an employees’ forum, members of which are elected by staff. The forum represents the workers and meets with the warehouse management every month.

Asos said the claims that it is an “uncaring, secretive and exploiting” employer “from Victorian times” is “false and unrealistic”: “If we ran our warehouse that way, we wouldn’t have a productive environment. The opposite is true, in fact – our people regularly outperform and deliver outstanding results.”

It said it welcomed dialogue with the government over the general use of low-paid workers in retail and was looking forward to engaging in a public policy dialogue.

Asos reiterated that it does not use, and never has used, zero hours contracts and it is not reducing other benefits to cover the increase in wages since the living wage was implemented in April. The etailer added that it is “committed” to moving towards the Living Wage Foundation’s recommended pay within 18 months.

The company has also revealed that, following consultation with staff, it has decided not to move forward with the controversial proposal of installing security cameras at its packing station.

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