LONDON — The British luxury industry contributed 32.2 billion pounds, or $49.5 billion, to the U.K. economy in 2013, representing 2.2 percent of the country’s GDP.
That’s according to a report by consultancy Frontier Economics, commissioned by the British luxury trade body Walpole, in association with U.K. law firm Charles Russel Speechlys.
The report found that 78 percent of U.K. luxury production is destined for export, representing a value of 25 billion pounds, or $38 billion, in 2013. That figure accounted for around 4.3 percent of the U.K.’s total merchandise exports in the year. Also in 2013, luxury exports grew by 12.1 percent compared to the previous year, which the report attributed to “a strong performance in the luxury car sector.”
The report considered 12 different sectors of the U.K. luxury industry, among them designer apparel and footwear; fine wines and spirits; luxury accessories; luxury jewelry and timepieces; high-end beauty and personal care, and high-end cars. In 2013, the luxury sector employed 113,000 in the U.K., with it accounting for 3 percent of the jobs created in the there during the year.
Frontier’s report forecasts strong growth for the sector. It expects that for 2019, sales of British luxury goods will be worth 51.1 billion pounds, or $78.6 billion, and that the industry will employ 158,000 people.
Michelle Emmerson, chief executive officer of Walpole, commented: “With well over half the [British luxury] produce destined for overseas markets over the year, we are proud that the British luxury industry pioneers as an export-oriented sector.” She noted that the industry has “a promising growth trajectory.”
Edward Craig, head of the retail and leisure group at Charles Russel Speechlys, added: “British fashion, luxury products, cultural industries and design are among the U.K.’s most prolific exporters. But businesses in the sector risk losing ground in a competitive global marketplace: Threats range from Chinese counterfeiters to an inability to secure visas for skilled workers to work in the U.K.”
He said that for the forecast growth to materialize “companies must assertively protect their intellectual property, commercial and digital rights around the world, and they must continue to access and export to global markets.”