Representatives from New Look and Asos have met with more than 50 representatives of textile industry regulators and enforcement agencies to discuss stamping out unethical practices in factories in the Leicester area.
It comes after former New Look chief executive Anders Kristiansen and Asos CEO Nick Beighton told Drapers the retailers wanted to bring volume production back to these shores, but complained that many UK factories fail to meet ethical regulations.
Leicester’s city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby hosted the first meeting of the groups last week, and discussed ways of developing a skilled and ethical textiles industry in the city that can be emulated across the UK.
Soulsby said: “These are national issues, but they’re ones that are particularly important to us locally. Among the topics we discussed was whether there could be scope for a potential local taskforce in Leicester, how we could make Leicester a recognised centre of excellence for textile manufacturing, how regulatory bodies can share intelligence and how to get more support from central government.
“It used to be said that ‘Leicester clothes the world’, and this meeting made it clear that clothing the world is not just part of our history, it’s part of our future.”
Agencies in attendance included the Health and Safety Executive, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, UK Visa and Immigration, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, Trading Standards, ACAS, the police, Citizens Advice Bureau and The Insolvency Service.
Leicester City Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) said the sector has been prioritised as one with potential for future growth. More than £2m from the government’s Regional Growth Fund has been invested in the sector, and the LLEP is currently discussing with the government how to attract further support.