Despite the turbulence in the UK high street, there are some reasons to be cheerful as the new selling season begins.
Despite the turbulence in the UK high street, there are some reasons to be cheerful as the new selling season begins. Figures included in HSBC’s new Future of Business Report reveal the creative industries are growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy and are expected to play a pivotal part in the UK’s future.
The HSBC report heralds the emergence of a new breed of export entrepreneur who will be geographically mobile, culturally aware, with a global view, marketing and networking skills and a long-term approach.
This is good news for the UK which has a prolific source of design talent which could take advantage of worldwide opportunities if combined with the right financial approach.
Twenty years ago, the UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) used to take trade and research missions to the four corners of the world and there was no shortage of participants. Sadly, the risk and reward culture has taken a beating of late, even if the UK has a strong presence at international shows like Pitti Uomo.
The Germans and Italians are investing in markets such as Kazakhstan and Brazil, so when these markets open up they will be better placed to get the business.
Faced with sluggish growth at home, the UK has to sell to markets that are performing better. While India, China and Russia are prime targets, the route to being successful is probably via licensing or franchising. However, Germany and Scandinavia are growing much faster than the UK and are on our doorstep. We can make more inroads there with quicker wins as they trade in a similar style to the UK. China is cultivating its own designers, often at UK fashion establishments. In 10 years the UK has the opportunity to turn its design talent into real business, before someone else does.
Paul Alger is director of international affairs at the UK Fashion & Textile Association