Up to 20,000 jobs could be created across the British textiles industry in the next five to 10 years to capitalise on the reshoring trend if businesses are supported with better skills provision, improved supply chain mapping and greater support at both domestic and international trade fairs, according to a report by the Alliance Project.
The Repatriation of UK Textiles Manufacture report, published by the not-for-profit textiles industry organisation Alliance Project which is led by N Brown Group chairman Lord David Alliance, has found the UK textile industry is worth £9bn to the economy and is continuing to experience year-on-year export and domestic growth.
The report calls for a national database to be created to help domestic and foreign buyers source in the UK; greater government and trade body support for UK businesses at trade fairs to help them meet buyers; a focus on changing out-dated perceptions of the industry in schools and colleges to attract a new, younger workforce; further investment into the micro-size supply chain; support for product and process innovation; and steps to address the issue of late payments for suppliers.
Government figures demonstrate 5,000 new jobs were created in UK textile manufacturing in 2013 while around 1,600 roles were created last year just through the Lord Alliance-led National N Brown Textiles Growth Programme, the first textile grant growth programme led by N Brown Group which is focused on textile businesses in the North West.
Against this backdrop the report said the industry has the potential to create a further 20,000 jobs by 2020-2025 as it continues to expand and retailers increasingly seek more control over their supply chains, shorter lead times and better quality products.
Interviews with manufacturers highlighted that a third of firms were looking to potentially employ additional staff, typically five employees, in the next 12 months.
It added post-recession growth is coming from micro companies rather than prime manufacturers, and significant capabilities still exist in traditional sectors such as yarn-spinning, knitting and weaving alongside growth in technical textiles, materials and composites.
Retailers backing the Alliance Project include Marks & Spencer and Asos.com.
The National N Brown Textiles Growth Programme is focused in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Lancashire and to date has invested £9m in grants to 94 companies, leveraging an additional £30m of private sector investment. The private sector bid to the fourth round of the Regional Growth Fund secured total funds of £12.8m in 2013.
Angela Spindler, chief executive of N Brown Group, said: “The first tranche of the funding has been allocated and while the results so far have been phenomenal, more needs to be done to drive textile manufacturing in the UK. As a business, we only source a small percentage from the UK, but there is a recognition of the growth potential in textile manufacturing.
“Retailers are desperate to increase capacity in the UK and this investment fund will allow us as an industry to grow that capacity quicker than we would otherwise have been able to. The industry needs all the support it can get to help meet this demand. This will also need parallel investment in Skills from the Government, as evidenced in the Alliance Report, which reveals a huge crisis in skills.”
John Dixon, executive director of general merchandise at Marks & Spencer, added: “The report shows what a positive effect a resurgent UK textile industry has on job creation, skills and innovation on our own doorstep. That’s why we’re backing the Alliance report and the Textile Growth Fund and why we continue to invest in the industry through products like our Best of British range and our textile apprenticeship scheme.”