Leeds cloth manufacturer Alfred Brown is increasing its production capacity by 15% driven by a predicted 25% increase in demand from high street retailers over 2011.
The worsted mill has invested £1.5m in new looms on the back of renewed interest in domestic fabrics, which has been driven by increased demand for higher-quality clothing among consumers. Alfred Brown expects sales volumes to rise from 1 million metres last year to 1.25 million metres this year.
Alfred Brown has secured a raft of new clients including Moss Bespoke and Jaeger, but the level of demand means it has had to push back delivery times for made-to-order product to 12 weeks from the usual six to eight weeks.
Joint managing director Ian Brown said: “We are dealing with a larger cross-section of the high street now and we’re finding some return business from retailers which had previously been sourcing their fabrics from cheaper offshore manufacturers. Retailers want that ‘Made in England’ appeal and consumers are buying into it.”
The company is also planning to step up its international presence, which currently represents 15% of its business.
Alfred Brown will focus on strengthening its position in the Japanese market, which already accounts for 10% of its total sales, and is evaluating the US market and emerging markets such as India and China as possible regions for future growth.
Brown said: “We will grow the company organically because we don’t want to over-extend ourselves. But we will push exports.”
The company works with a long list of customers including Marks & Spencer, Next, Aquascutum, Austin Reed, Gieves & Hawkes, John Lewis and Paul Smith, and posted turnover of £7m in 2010. It expects this will increase to £8.5m this year.