Online fashion retailer Boohoo has begun production at its first UK manufacturing facility, with plans to recruit 180 people in making and decorating garments.

Its new 23,000 sq ft factory in Thurmaston Lane in Leicester has the capacity to manufacture up to 20,000 to 25,000 garments a week, including made-to-order items and apparel customised to individual customers’ specifications.

Previously, about 40% of Boohoo’s products were supplied by manufacturers and garment decorators in Leicester. In 2020, an independent inquiry into supplier working conditions found that Boohoo failed to move quickly enough after being notified of “serious issues” over the treatment of workers at some independent factories in Leicester.

With plans to recruit 180 people, the group said the new facility would operate two shifts “creating double the job opportunities and greater flexibility for the team”.

It added that all workers at the new Leicester site would have the same benefits as other Boohoo group employees including private medical care and free company shares and receive pay above the National Living Wage.

The factory is also set to be used as a training facility for product teams across all 13 of the group’s brands and provide guidance to suppliers to help them become more efficient and sustainable.

Boohoo plans to work with education providers to promote skills in garment manufacturing, such as offering young people the opportunity to apply for L3 and L4 apprenticeships through a partnership with UKFT education partner Fashion-Enter.

The Boohoo Group’s CEO John Lyttle said: “The Thurmaston Lane site reinforces our commitment to UK manufacturing and our long-standing partnership with Leicester.

“It is more than just a factory: it’s a hub of learning and collaboration as it gives our own teams the chance to work on-site and an opportunity to see a working factory first-hand.

“We welcome the opportunity to share that knowledge with the amazing education institutions in the city and strengthen our collaborative working relationships with our approved suppliers.

“It’s an exciting new chapter for The Boohoo Group.”

The group’s brands include Boohoo, Debenhams, Coast, Oasis, Karen Millan, Warehouse, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Burton, BoohooMan, PrettyLittleThing, Nasty Gal and MissPap.