Fast fashion boom is about to come to a juddering halt – Telegraph.co.uk

A carve-up of Green’s failed Arcadia empire between the pair seemed like a watershed moment in the changing of the high street guard.

But that high has been remarkably short-lived. A profit warning from Boohoo has wiped 15pc off its share price, sending it to lows not seen since the start of the pandemic.

The euphoria of successive lockdowns had worn off long ago. Shares in Asos stand at just over £30, roughly half of where they were in March, and Boohoo’s share price has dropped nearly 40pc since February to 230p.

It is blaming higher customer returns and the reopening of the high street. Even so, such a sharp one-day fall may seem like something of an overreaction. After all, it’s not as if sales have suddenly dried up.

On the contrary, a 20pc rise in a tough market is hardly a disaster. And its shares are highly rated too, trading on a price-to-earnings ratio of 35 times.

But the point is that the City had pencilled in a 28pc jump, and profits have taken a hit too from higher costs, pointing to a slowdown in a market that had sailed through the pandemic not only unscathed, but initially buoyed by it. The bigger scare is a lowering of turnover growth expectations from to between 20pc to 25pc from at least 25pc originally.

The greatest concern must be that the global supply chain crisis threatens to bring the fast fashion industry to a halt.

With much of the clothing still arriving in giant cargo containers from the far east, it is no exaggeration to say that the entire business model upon which its success has been built suddenly looks very shaky.

This week, in an effort to combat allegations of poor working conditions in its factories, Boohoo published a full list of 1,100 suppliers, more than a third of which are based in China. Another 205 are in Turkey, 151 in India, and just 96 – equivalent to less than 9pc – are in the UK.

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