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Boohoo's 500 million stg plan to create 5,000 jobs as demand rises

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A woman poses with a smartphone showing the Boohoo app in front of the Boohoo logo on display in this illustration
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By James Davey

LONDON (Reuters) - British online fashion retailer Boohoo said on Thursday it would invest 500 million pounds ($693 million) in the United Kingdom over the next five years, creating 5,000 jobs and increasing its ability to meet rising demand at home and abroad.

Retailers are in a race to strengthen logistics to improve delivery fulfilment after the acceleration in online shopping caused by the pandemic.

Based in Manchester, northern England, Boohoo sells clothing, shoes, accessories and beauty products aimed at 16 to 40-year olds. It has expanded rapidly since launching in 2006 and trades from 13 brands.

Boohoo said its growing global appeal, with half of its sales coming from overseas markets, such as the United States and Australia, meant it needed additional warehouse space and to invest in technology to increase efficiency.

"The investments we have planned will help us to continue our growth, increasing our customer base both at home and abroad, adding even more value as we do so," Chief Executive John Lyttle said.

Boohoo shares were up 1% at 0724 GMT.

In April, Boohoo secured a new warehouse in Daventry, central England, that will boost its sales capacity to more than 4 billion pounds - more than double its 2020-21 revenue of 1.75 billion pounds.

In February, Boohoo purchased the Debenhams brand out of administration for 55 million pounds and the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton brands from the administrators of Arcadia for 25.2 million pounds.

The group's rapid growth has drawn criticism.

Last September Boohoo accepted all the recommendations of an independent review that found major failings in its supply chain in England after newspaper allegations about working conditions and low pay in factories in the Leicester area.

The group has pledged to fix the problems with its 'Agenda for Change' programme.

Some shareholder advisory groups and investors remain dissatisfied. At its annual shareholders' meeting in June some 12% of votes cast opposed the re-election to the board of co-founder and executive director Carol Kane.

And despite strong sales growth during the pandemic Boohoo's shares are down 22% so far in 2021.

($1 = 0.7216 pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton and Barbara Lewis)

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