British manufacturing could be set for a further revival as the new owners of Aquascutum’s former factory court retailers in a bid to expand its output.
Last year, the factory in Corby, Northamptonshire, was shut down for four months when the luxury British brand went into administration, resulting in 130 redundancies.
But it was since bought out by leather goods firm Swaine Adeney Brigg in August, saving 37 jobs, and is now eyeing a broader client base. Renamed The Clothing Works, it is currently producing samples for Marks & Spencer as well as luxury group BLBG (British Luxury Brand Group), womenswear label The Rose and spa and salon uniform specialist Tempus.
Production manager Alistair Rowan said: “We’ve been talking to a number of different retailers and other businesses about trialling garments at the factory, with a view to taking them on as clients.”
The factory has continued to produce raincoats for Aquascutum, but is now expanding into further categories.
It is producing sample men’s raincoats and wool coats for BLBG, women’s tweed jackets for The Rose, spa uniforms for Tempus and sample trousers and a woollen coat for M&S.
M&S declined to comment on the move, but directed Drapers to the ‘Best of British’ initiative it embarked on this year – a three-year partnership with the British Fashion Council to “celebrate British fashion, home-grown talent and sustainability”.
As part of this initiative, M&S will produce two new clothing collections, which will feature a combination of British heritage, sourcing and production. It is not clear whether the clothing manufactured at the Corby factory will play a part in these collections.
Rowan told Drapers he was optimistic a revival in home-grown production would encourage further retailers to source from the UK. Over the past couple of years, retailers including Asda, Debenhams and River Island have thrown their weight behind British-made products.
The factory’s full capacity would see it producing 10,000 to 15,000 units a year, but it is working at around 30% of this. Rowan said he would consider hiring more staff if demand grew.
“Obviously if we need more people we will hopefully be able to source from some of those who worked here before,” he said.