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Mary Portas to champion UK manufacturing

Retail guru Mary Portas is to head up a new clothing factory in Middleton, Greater Manchester in a wider move to promote the UK manufacturing industry, the story of which is set to feature in a new Channel 4 series, yet another boost to Drapers Save Our Skills (SOS) campaign.

Drapers launched its SOS campaign in March, which aims to promote and support UK manufacturing. The campaign was launched due to the lack of manufacturing skills in the UK as clothing production in recent years has moved abroad.

Retailers including Marks & Spencer and River Island have recently put fresh emphasis on UK manufacturing by opting to produce some garments in this country.

According to reports Portas is to set up her own clothes factory in Middleton, Greater Manchester, with the aim of staffing it with locals struggling to find work.

Channel 4 production staff have secured empty factory Warwick Mill in Middleton and are now on the hunt for people to work there and produce a clothing line. Those successful will be given a 12-month contract and taught manufacturing skills. The products made will then be sold to high street multiples.

Production company Endemol is to film Portas’ progress as part of a new documentary series on Channel 4 about the British manufacturing industry called Mary’s Sweatshop.

The series will see Portas attempt to raise awareness about the UK clothing industry and convince shoppers to buy British.

Channel 4 said: “Mary will explore what lead to the UK clothing industry’s decline and attempt to set up a production line with an ailing factory.” The series will look at whether she can she make clothes cost-effectively, find a retailer prepared to stock them, and then convince shoppers to buy British. The series is set to air in 2012.

Readers' comments (4)

  • I think it is great that there is a focus on UK manufacturing again, in fact I champion it myself on my site Make it British, but I do worry that Mary Portas is jumping on a band wagon with this and it may do more harm than good for our manufacturing industry.
    Just the fact that Endomol (who brought the world Big Brother) are involved, fills me with dread.
    With a name like 'Mary's Sweatshop' is it really going to portray the sort of image that will encourage a new generation to work in a clothing factory?
    We should concentrate on what our strengths are in Britian - making great quality products for the middle to top end of the market. Not churning out high volume to high street retailers in a sweat shop and sticking it on reality TV.

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  • "Those successful will be given a 12-month contract and taught manufacturing skills."... so not a long term investment then, just for the cameras.

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  • I used to hold her in quite high regard but all this jumping on bandwagons + self promoting stuff is getting a bit painful now. Why not go into an existing factory and try and develop the show from that base? Or find a label that do make in the UK and film a buyer appointmemt where debates over price arise....they love that it's Made in UK...but still want Chinese making prices and a hefty mark-up.
    I guess the show will be linked to the HoF range and is designed to further promote that and any positive run-off for the industry will just be an added bonus. I look forward to watching it though.....

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  • This is really about Mary Portas championing herself. Her crusade in self publicity is becoming very tiresome.

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