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BFC: fashion worth £20bn to economy

Report highlights value of UK fashion as bodies unite in call for funding.

The British Fashion Council (BFC) has put a £20bn figure on the value of the UK fashion industry to the UK economy, as it prepares to lobby the coalition Government for funding for the first time.

The organisation, which runs London Fashion Week, faces uncertainty over its funding arrangements after speculation that the London Development Agency (LDA), which allocates cash to the BFC, will be axed as part of spending cuts.

The LDA awarded the BFC £4.2m three years ago, of which £1.2m was invested in LFW. It has not pledged any cash beyond this year. Today’s LFW is the last one to fall under the three-year funding agreement.

As a result of the report, the BFC and trade bodies the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) have formed an action group to decide how best to lobby the Government not to sideline fashion as an industry in need of investment.

The UK fashion industry was worth £20.9bn to the UK economy in 2009, according to The Value of the UK Fashion Industry report, which was compiled with economists Oxford Economics and presented to the House of Commons this week.

Fashion’s contribution to the economy - based on UK gross domestic product (GDP) - was calculated using the industry’s profits and wages, related to the manufacture and sales known as gross value added (GVA), rather than on spending.

The trade bodies’ action group will form a second report with more solid calls to action, Fashion Action Plan, in early 2011, asking the Government to provide funding for new businesses, tax breaks for ethical ranges and investment in education. It will also highlight the sector’s importance to youth employment.
The 2011 report will also call on the Government to fill the business skills gap in the sector by creating a national careers campaign to promote the diversity of fashion jobs and the teaching of business-related modules in fashion courses.

The BFC wants support to develop highly skilled manufacturing in the UK and aims to promote partnerships between businesses and designers to help new start-ups to stay afloat during difficult times.

The Value of The UK Fashion Industry report is understood to have cost the BFC close to six figures to produce, and had backing from retailers including Debenhams, House of Fraser, Aurora Fashions, Marks & Spencer and New Look as well as the UKFT, the LDA and developer Land Securities.
However, the BFC said the report was commissioned as a “lasting legacy” to celebrate its 25th birthday, rather than to use as a tool to secure additional funding.
It highlighted the breadth of the fashion industry by including all areas from high street retailers to high-end designers as well as the textile and manufacturing sectors, media, marketers and academics.

Harold Tillman, BFC chairman and chairman of Aquascutum and Jaeger, said: “Fashion is a great British success story and this landmark piece of research underlines its true scope and economic impact. This is just the first step to creating a detailed national action plan for the industry which will help to support its future growth and success.”

Minister for the creative industries Ed Vaizey said the research “confirmed British fashion’s status as one of our most important creative industries”. He added that he would continue to work with the BFC to make sure the Government “does what it can to further support the industry”.


The BFC’s findings

£20.9bn - Value of the total UK fashion industry to the UK economy
£6.62bn - Value of manufacturing, textiles, wholesale, media and marketing to economy
£98m - Spend on UK tourism by UK fashion employees
816,000 - People employed in fashion-related sectors

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