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British manufacturing will be ‘driven by innovation’ after Brexit

Growth in British manufacturing will be driven by innovation and authenticity after the UK leaves the European Union, industry leaders at this year’s Make It British Forum were told last week.

Speakers at the Textile Centre of Excellence, Huddersfield included guests from the UK Fashion and Textile Association and cotton mill English Fine Cottons. They discussed how to capitalise on customer demand for British-made products.

English Fine Cottons director and general manager Andy Ogden urged delegates to “have the courage to be authentic and tell your story”.

Barclays Brand Britain research last year showed the demand for British-made goods had increased by 36% in the past five years.

Mark Jarvis, managing director of World Textile Information Network, said: “Our opportunities for growth in materials and manufacturing lie in digitisation.” He discussed the capabilities of microprocessors woven into fabrics, and how these can connect garments to the internet in a new and innovative way.

He added: “Collaboration is vital, and mass personalisation is the key to meet the needs of the consumer. By 2025 the power will shift to the consumer. Every manufacturer in the UK has the opportunity to be the most innovative and leading manufacturer in the UK.

“The opportunity is there to put us at the forefront of agile manufacturing. But we mustn’t be lulled into inaction.”

Stephen Bend, international sourcing/production manager at Dr Martens, placed an emphasis on the success of promoting brands through social media, and said getting its own apprentices to share the details of the Dr Martens project on these platforms led to further recruitment.

“Their passion for our brand and confidence in using social media enables them to share the message in their own individual ways,” he said. “We’ve found three out of four of our apprentices through Instagram.”

The forum is part of the Make It British campaign set up by former fashion buyer Kate Hills in 2011.

Hills said: “It’s not enough to simply stick a Union Jack on your product in order to translate desire into sales.  It’s all about adding value.”

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