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John Smedley in UK production plea

John Smedley managing director Ian Maclean has said more workers must be encouraged to join UK manufacturing to halt rising costs.

Speaking at the Westminster Media Forum at Rutherford Theatre in London, the head of the Britishmade knitwear brand described feeling “like the proverbial dodo when walking past Primark and other [outsourced] fast-fashion outlets”.

Maclean said: “If we need linkers,  seamsters or mechanics for the factory we must train them ourselves. Because of this, manufacturing costs have doubled in the last decade but our volumes have halved.”

Maclean stressed the need for more apprenticeship opportunities for school leavers.

He added that British brands should set up their own ecommerce sites, as direct sales to the consumer online capture an extra margin to counter rising manufacturing costs.

“Opening our web shop saved us,” Maclean said. “We need to see high-speed broadband in place across the country to incentivize small businesses [to sell] online.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • I'd like to make some additional comments to your report of my presentation:
    1. My presentation addressed the issues surrounding the idea that UK manufacturing can be revived in the context of the success of the success of British Fashion Industry.
    2. In order to help us along this path, I called for the media, commentators and the BFC to stop talking about the British Fashion Industry only in terms of designers. The output of the industry is garments, and garments are created by designers and manufacturers together. Therefore, I would like to see the British Fashion Industry begin to be described in these terms. In this way, the value of UK manufacturers will be elevated.
    3. In addition, the politicians need to change their orthodox thinking to place a greater value on low-tech industry (like garment manufacturing). Why? For the simple reason that it employs lots of people and these people can be geographically diverse. This point then led on to my comments about building ultra fast broadband everywhere, in order to facilitate the development of small UK manufacturing businesses.
    4. Finally, the very high costs associated with manufacturing in the UK are not an absolute barrier to doing so. That said, I believe the only sustainable way to build a business is for a manufacturer to spread risk by trading through wholesale and retail channels together.
    Ian Maclean

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