The UK luxury sector, including designer apparel and footwear, is expected to be worth more than £51bn by 2019, the latest figures have revealed.
The sector contributed £32.2bn to the economy in 2013, 2.2% of GDP, according to a study by international consultancy Frontier Economics for Walpole, the industry alliance whose members including Burberry, Alexander McQueen and Harrods, and law firm Charles Russell Speechlys.
Luxury businesses are set to employ 158,000 people within the next four years, up from 113,000 in 2013, and grow in value by 60%. This is despite fears of a slowdown among big Chinese spenders and the devaluation of the yuan in August.
British luxury products are largely export-oriented, with 78% of production, in value terms, intended for overseas markets.
Year-on-year export growth in 2013 was around 12.1% and accounted for around 4.3% of total UK merchandise exports.
Minister of state for culture and the digital economy Ed Vaizey said: “The UK luxury goods sector is hugely successful; it boosts Britain’s exports, is a creator of jobs and apprenticeships, and a major contributor to the economy.”
However, Edward Craig, head of the retail and leisure group at Charles Russell Speechlys, warned UK businesses risk losing market share because of threats ranging from Chinese counterfeiters to the inability to secure visas for skilled migrant workers.
“For the growth forecasted in this report to materialise, companies must assertively protect their intellectual property, commercial and digital rights around the world, and they must continue to access and export to global markets,” he said.
“Visas and digital governance issues will become more important. Our luxury sector is the jewel in the crown of UK industry, and it is important that the right policies and legislation are in place to foster their continued growth.”