Fashion businesses in Manchester are confident they will continue to grow despite uncertainty over whether prime minister Theresa May will continue the “northern powerhouse” strategy.
Under the strategy, former chancellor George Osborne had planned to narrow the north-south divide by devolving power to and investing in hubs in the north of England, including Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.
However, in the first meeting of the economy and industrial strategy committee under the new government, which took place on 2 August, May said she would focus on supporting economic growth outside London, but made no mention of the north of England. This has led to concerns in some quarters that the project could be diluted.
However, fashion firms in Manchester told Drapers they did not think a move away from the idea of a northern powerhouse would have any impact on the industry.
Qasim Akhlaq, managing director of footwear etailer Public Desire, said: “I don’t think it will have an effect on us as we have our sights set internationally. Following the success of our US site we’re confident we will continue to thrive.
“We’ve seen success because we are agile and reactive, and, like other Manchester-based brands, we have a customer-centric approach.”
Nicki Capstick, marketing manager at fast fashion etailer PrettyLittleThing, agreed: “May’s plans will not affect us [either way]. Our business continues to see month-on-month growth in terms of visits and turnover and we’re currently expanding successfully within other international markets.”
She added: “Manchester has always been a fashion hub in the UK and we’re taking full advantage of being a part of such a thriving community. There are more brands popping up and building their business in the area, which is fantastic to see.”
A spokeswoman for young fashion womenswear brand Glamorous said: “It won’t affect us directly as, even though we are based in Manchester, our site has a global reach. We also have a good multichannel interaction with consumers. I don’t think Manchester has cause for concern.”
A spokesman from The Fashion Network in Manchester said: “Manchester has never really had a great deal of support from the government as the economic infrastructure all seems to be flushed into London, so we won’t suffer.”
He added: “Manchester has a deep history of fashion textiles and is now a hub of emerging fashion and textiles businesses. The online companies including Missguided, PrettyLittleThing and Boohoo have caused an ecommerce boom here and fashion graduates from the city will help with the surging development.
“Manchester’s business scene is thriving and it will continue to succeed no matter what May has in mind.”