Ahead of the triggering of article 50 on 29 March, this week we spoke to retailers to find out if they feel their views on Brexit are being heard.
Damian Collins MP, chairman of the culture, media and sports committee, has actively gathered written and oral evidence from stakeholders in the creative industries, including Drapers. We submitted the results of our nationwide survey to the inquiry at the end of last year, setting out what the fashion industry feels are the priorities in the Brexit negotiations.
When I met British Fashion Council chief executive Caroline Rush recently, she also stressed how the organisation has been working with the government to highlight the needs and concerns of the industry around Brexit. Trade bodies including the British Retail Consortium and UK Fashion & Textile Association have also been engaged in roundtables and debates.
However, some fashion retailers and brands still feel their voices are not being heard. There is a little reassurance around some of the key issues, such as the free movement of people, and a lack of understanding of the practicalities of trading internationally.
When we surveyed Drapers’ readers last autumn, securing favourable trade agreements, ensuring the free movement of people, maintaining funding for education and protecting intellectual property and design rights were at the top of the priority list. The fashion industry contributes £26bn to the UK economy: the government must allow it to help set the political agenda.
In other news this week, there have been rumblings about what’s on the acquisition agenda for Philip Day, chief of Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group. Among other rumours, he is said to be the frontrunner to buy Jaeger. Last week, the group was also linked to footwear retailer Brantano.
There is an obvious alignment between Brantano and Peacocks, which also sits at the value end of the market. Introducing shop-in-shops into each other’s stores would make sense.
Day has kept his plans for his most recent acquisitions, Austin Reed and CC, under tight wraps. But the plans to launch a Day’s Department Store concept, as reported exclusively by Drapers last month, could be the final piece in the puzzle – bringing the right brands from among this growing and diverse portfolio together in one space.