Karen Millen image
No legal action will be brought against Boohoo, the company behind PrettyLittleThing, Karen Millen and Debenhams / Image source: Boohoo
  • Boohoo, ASOS, George didn’t break law
  • Relief as legal action avoided
  • Fashion trio pledge to use ‘accurate and clear’ claims

Shares in Boohoo (BOO:AIM) ticked up 1.8% to 36p in early dealings on Wednesday after the CMA (Competition & Markets Authority) concluded the online fast fashion retailer, and rivals ASOS (ASC) and George at Asda, hadn’t breached consumer protection law with their green claims.

Investors were mightily relieved as this means no legal action will be brought against the owner of the eponymous label as well as the PrettyLittleThing, Karen Millen and Debenhams brands.

However, Boohoo, ASOS and George at Asda, which collectively generate over £4.4 billion annually from UK fashion sales alone, have inked formal agreements to use only ‘accurate and clear’ claims, stressed the competition watchdog, which is urging all fashion brands to review their utterances on sustainability.


Online fast fashion retailers have had a rough few years. Boohoo’s reputation has been buffeted by ethical issues around its supply chain, while close peer ASOS has struggled with poor inventory management and weak cash flow and both have faced intense competition from Shein.

The CMA launched an investigation into Boohoo, ASOS and George at Asda in July 2022 after identifying concerns over ‘possible greenwashing’, where companies present products as more eco-friendly than they really are.

In her statement today, CMA CEO Sarah Cardell said ‘the millions of people who shop with these well-known businesses can now have confidence in the green claims they see.’


Boohoo insisted it has ‘not intentionally misled customers and is committed to best-practice and providing customers with accurate information on the products they buy while delivering progress on its sustainability strategy.’

CEO John Lyttle said Boohoo was ‘pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement with the CMA following its investigation into environmental claims. Along with the other retailers who have been a part of this process, we have chosen to sign a set of undertakings that will provide some helpful clarity on how the CMA’s green claims code operates in practice. We remain committed to working with others to find collective solutions to the shared challenges of sustainability within the fashion industry.’

Fresh from reporting an 18% plunge in first half sales, ASOS said the voluntary undertakings made by the three brands would set a benchmark for the industry.

‘Sharing clear and accurate information on the sustainability credentials of fashion products is crucial to empowering consumers to make fully informed choices,’ said ASOS.

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AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said looking beyond the headline, the CMA has not let the three fashion names off scot-free.

‘Some of the measures agreed with the competition authority could result in extra costs, which could be hard to absorb for companies operating at razor-thin margins, and they will have to back up any nods to sustainability in labelling and marketing. This could harm their ability to appeal to an increasingly eco-conscious young adult demographic which makes up their core market.’

Mould added: ‘These companies enjoyed their time in the sun during the pandemic but they still face huge challenges to remain relevant and profitable in a post-Covid world.’

DISCLAIMER: Financial services company AJ Bell referenced in this article owns Shares magazine. The author of this article (James Crux) and the editor (Martin Gamble) own shares in AJ Bell.

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Issue Date: 27 Mar 2024