Global retail giant Hugo Boss has become the latest company to promise to boycott the use of Australian wool from mulesed lambs.

In a statement the firm said it "has decided to phase out the use of wool from farms that perform mulesing - including clip mulesing."

The company continues: "Should mulesing not have ended completely by 2010, Hugo Boss will refuse to purchase wool material from farms that perform mulesing."

Hugo Boss, which operates more than 1,000 stores in 100 countries and has annual sales approaching US$2bn, joins about 50 European companies including H&M and Matalan who have pledged to boycott the wool.

The concerns revolve around the practice of mulesing, which involves the removal of a patch of skin from the sheep's rump to prevent infestations of maggots.

Animal welfare groups such as People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) maintain that the practice is cruel, and have called for its replacement with a more humane alternative.

Meanwhile, Australia's wool producers have promised to outlaw mulesing by 2010, drawing further criticism from pressure groups who argue they are dragging their feet over the issue.