MADE IN THE U.K.: U.K. retailers, who moved manufacturing offshore decades ago, want it back on home ground — and flourishing once again.
Earlier this week, retailers taking part in the N Brown Textiles Growth Program presented a major study on supply and demand in U.K. textile manufacturing to the House of Commons, the lower house of the British parliament.
According to “The Alliance Report: Repatriation of UK Textiles Manufacture,” which was published today, the U.K. textile industry is worth 9 billion pounds, or $13.71 billion, to the economy, and is experiencing year-on-year export and domestic growth. Government figures show that last year, 5,000 new jobs were created in textile manufacturing in the U.K., and a further 20,000 jobs in U.K. textile manufacturing could be created by 2020.
According to the report, manufacturing in the U.K. is better for fast-fashion companies because the lead times are shorter; overall costs are competitive with countries in Europe and the Far East; and existing capabilities in areas such as yarn spinning, knitting and weaving need to be exploited, especially in traditional areas of manufacturing in the north of England.
N Brown Textiles Growth Program is led by N Brown, the British multi-channel retailer, and is the first ever textile grant growth program in British history. It is supported by retailers and designers, including Marks & Spencer, Asos.com and Roland Mouret, and received 12.8 million pounds, or $19.5 million, in 2013 from the U.K. government’s Regional Growth Fund. In its first year of operation, created 1,600 jobs and 115 apprenticeship positions.
“Retailers are desperate to increase capacity in the U.K. and this investment fund will allow us, as an industry, to grow that capacity quicker than we would otherwise have been able to,” said Angela Spindler, chief executive officer of N Brown Group. “The industry needs all the support it can get to help meet this demand. This will also need parallel investment in skills from the government, as evidenced in the Alliance Report, which reveals a huge crisis in skills.”