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Investment in textile manufacturing to create 20,000 jobs in the UK by 2020


From that royal wedding dress by a certain British designer, to F1 cars, planes and space crafts, UK textile manufacturing is leading the world in many fields.

The Alliance Report: ‘Repatriation of UK Textiles Manufacture’, is the biggest study in twenty years on supply and demand in was published this week, following a launch at the House of Commons on Monday night. The report was published by The Alliance Project, a not-for-profit organisation established to examine the potential for repatriating textiles manufacturing to the UK. According to the report, the UK textile industry is worth £9bn to the economy and is experiencing year-on-year export and domestic growth. Government figures show that last year alone, 5,000 new jobs were created in textile manufacturing in the UK.

The Alliance Report highlights that post-recession growth is coming from ‘micro-companies’ rather than original equipment manufacturers or prime manufactures, and that a further 15,000 jobs in UK textile manufacturing could be created by 2020, making a total of 20,000 since 2013.

Increasing costs from competing countries make UK sourcing more attractive. In Britain, significant capabilities still exist in traditional sectors such as yarn-spinning, knitting and weaving alongside growth in technical textiles, materials and composites and rationale for sourcing from low cost countries has weakened due to consumer behaviour demanding shorter lead times (fast fashion), as well as a demand for UK made homeware.

The Alliance Project has also seen a number of retailers supporting the repatriation of textile manufacturing to the UK. Of particular note is the success of the National N Brown Textiles Growth Programme, the first ever textile grant growth programme in British history, led by N Brown Group, the online, catalogue and stores retailer and supported by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), Manchester Growth Company, M&S, ASOS, Roland Mouret and other world class manufacturers.

The Programme announced this week that in its first year of operation 1,600 jobs and 115 apprenticeship positions were created in England. Launched in 2013, as an incentive scheme funded by a government regional growth fund to drive investment in the textile supply chain in Britain, the Programme has to date invested £9m pounds in grants to 94 companies thereby leveraging an additional £30m of private sector investment. The private sector bid to the fourth round of the Regional Growth Fund secured £12.8m of funds.

This investment is most concentrated in three regions: Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Lancashire, achieving growth in some of the country’s most underperforming areas of the economy.

Angela Spindler, CEO of N Brown Group commented:

“We are very supportive of the initiative and, as a retailer headquartered in Manchester, we are delighted by the job creation in the region.

The first tranche of the funding has been allocated and while the results so far have been phenomenal, more needs to be done to drive textile manufacturing in the UK. As a business, we only source a small percentage from the UK, but there is a recognition of the growth potential in textile manufacturing. “Retailers are desperate to increase capacity in the UK and this investment fund will allow us as an industry to grow that capacity quicker than we would otherwise have been able to. 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.”

John Dixon, Executive Director General Merchandise, Marks & Spencers added:

“The report shows what a positive effect a resurgent UK textile industry has on job creation, skills and innovation on our own doorstep. That’s why we’re backing the Alliance report and the Textile Growth Fund and why we continue to invest in the industry through products like our Best of British range and our textile apprenticeship scheme.”

Published on Wednesday 11 February by Veebs Sabharwal

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