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River Island sees British manufacturing pay off

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High street clothing retailer River Island has claimed that by moving more of its production back to the UK it has managed to boost sales this year, according to an article in The Times.

Over the last 12 months the company has increased the number of items its manufactured at home by around 50 per cent, and that switch has reportedly improved efficiencies within the business.

Rising labour costs in China are making it more economical to produce goods in Britain and CEO of River Island Ben Lewis says that having domestic production allows his business to react to changing trends much quicker.

Lewis said: “It has allowed us to get new fashion to our customers much quicker than we were able to, and as a result some of those products have become absolute bestsellers.

“We can get more of them and work closely with the factories. With clever design you can hold the price to something affordable.”

Earlier this month a leading logistics professional told Retail Gazette one of the biggest causes of waste and inefficiency in the supply chain is that so many products sold in this country are produced overseas.

At a time when the UK economy is low on growth, a revival of domestic manufacturing would be a welcome boost to the government but Jon Copestake, Retail Analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, suspects River Island’s initiative is unlikely to be the start of a wider trend.

He argues however that UK manufacturing is not as rare as many people suspect and that current economic conditions are making it easier to produce goods domestically.

“In the current atmosphere of austerity, a “cool Britannia” revival seems a long way off. However, production in Britain has become relatively cheaper,” Copestake explained.

“Higher wages in China and rising oil prices have made foreign supply pricier while slow wage growth and measures such as quantitative easing have made the UK cheaper.

“Manufacturing contributes an estimated £140 billion to the economy so using British suppliers is not as rare as people might think. Tapping into underlying sentiment for locally sourced goods will certainly boost British-made clothes, although branding and price remain important consumption drivers.”

Published on Monday 13 February by Editorial Assistant

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