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Spotlight on…. Turkey

Drapers takes a closer look at the benefits of manufacturing in the Mediterranean country.

Turkish manufacturers are in demand with own-label fashion buyers and sourcing directors prepared to foot the bill of higher labour costs in exchange for faster delivery to market and the flexibility to repeat in season in order to benefit their margins.

The Mediterranean coastal country is well known for its established textiles and fashion apparel manufacturing industry, with a reputation for creativity and innovation. Further to that the country has seen more business as a result of increased labour costs in China, which have meant that the Asian power-house’s once unbeatable competitive edge is now somewhat reduced.

Findings in the The Worldwide Sourcing Study report by French industry body Fédération de la Maille, brought to you by Fast Fashion London, shows that for the period January to September 2011, Turkey accounted for €6.3bn (£5.1bn) in value terms of European textile and apparel imports, up 8% year-on-year, and second only behind China, which was also up 8% year-on-year to €23bn (£18.4bn).

There are a number of advantages to manufacturing in Turkey. Firstly, it has a well-developed supply chain and buyers can source most of the components needed within the country; secondly, certain manufacturers offer value-added services including design and product development; and thirdly, the country’s close proximity to Europe means that buyers can repeat best-selling styles in season, allowing them to maximise sales; far outweighing the added labour cost.

Sue Butler, director at consultancy Kurt Salmon, echoes this. “Turkey is a relatively low risk country for manufacturing. It has a decent supply of raw materials and has set up a good quality and highly professional manufacturing industry which is relatively easy to deal with,” she says. Butler adds that Turkish manufacturers are often used for quick response and speed to market products. “We have seen recent examples of Kate Bostock talking about how Marks & Spencer source a lot of their speed-to-market product from Turkey, and of George at Asda acquiring GAAT, one of their Turkish suppliers, and looking to reduce lead times through this,” she says.

Speed to market and being able to repeat in season was one of the key reasons that department store House of Fraser moved 20% of its private-label production back closer to Europe, and to Turkey in particular, with a little going to North Africa. Alan Winstanley, executive director for menswear, childrenswear & beauty also says that lead times from China had been slipping and it was taking eight months to get some products into store from the initial decision. “Producing in Turkey does dramatically shorten that period, and the cost is actually not that much more than it is doing it from China. And if you want a quality product and you want it quickly, you can repeat in season from Turkey you can’t do that from China,” he says.

While there’s no doubt that China is and will remain the number one manufacturing country for the foreseeable future, it is equally true that the Chinese government’s commitment to raising wages there could make manufacturing close to home even more competitive yet.

For more on manufacturing in Turkey click here to read our Q&A with Selim Aksiyote, general manager at manufacturer Görkem Giyim

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