British clothing firms should concentrate on design and development and leave the manufacturing process to China, according to Next chief executive Lord Wolfson.
Speaking at the relaunch of the UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) last week, Wolfson dismissed talk of a revival in UK manufacturing and suggested that UK factories could never hope to compete with the standards, speed and prices offered in China and should not waste time trying.
“The value is not behind the sewing machine. The jobs we want are in design and development and add value,” he said.
Addressing an audience of UK manufacturers, retailers and industry leaders, Wolfson expressed admiration for UK suppliers that had survived the past 10 years in the industry by developing their overseas manufacturing capabilities while keeping design and strategy roles in the UK.
Citing the example of his Next suit, he said customers would not be able to get the same product, with the same quality and price, if it was made in the UK. By designing in the UK, sourcing fabric from Italy and manufacturing in China, Next was able to offer the best possible design at the best possible price, he said.