People Tree, the ethical fashion brand, has announced that its UK operations will be going into liquidation. The company has admitted to owing creditors over £8.5 million. The decision to liquidate the UK arm of the business was made at a recent creditors’ meeting, with representatives from suppliers, customers, and the UK workforce in attendance.

While People Tree will still continue to operate in Europe and Japan, the future of these operations in the UK and Europe is now uncertain. The European website is still functioning, but there are doubts about the feasibility of running operations in the UK as even the lone employee of the European operation has been made redundant.

The company has been facing a difficult trading period and had already laid off a significant number of workers in recent months. The majority of the debt is owed to suppliers in India, with amounts reaching £3.7 million. People Tree entities within the group are owed £1.2 million, and 14 UK staff members are owed over £273,000. Suppliers in India are also owed more than £100,000, with one supplier awaiting payment of over £400,000.

People Tree, originally founded in Tokyo as Global Village in 1991, expanded to the UK ten years later and quickly gained recognition for its commitment to sustainable fashion. The brand collaborated with renowned designers like Vivienne Westwood and Orla Kiely and had celebrity clients such as Emma Watson and Jo Wood. Additionally, People Tree actively campaigned for the fair treatment of garment workers worldwide.

Safia Minney, the co-founder of People Tree, expressed her heartbreak over the liquidation. The current CEO, James Minney, also expressed sadness but thanked the brand’s loyal customers and wholesale stockists for their ongoing support. He also acknowledged the support received from suppliers and creditors throughout the difficult period leading up to the liquidation.

Useful links:
1. People Tree Official Website
2. Fairtrade Foundation