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Sir Philip Green: I will try to bring manufacturing back to UK

UPDATED: Sir Philip Green has come out in support of a return to British manufacturing, stating the time is right to examine opportunities to re-open UK factories and that Arcadia will try to bring more production to British shores.

Speaking at the Retail Week conference this evening, Green told delegates that although he did not forsee all production returning to the UK, he was supportive of an “intelligent” investigation into what could be done with UK factories.

He said: “When the market is as it is you want to manage as near home as you can. That’s why there’s some debate about UK manufacturing and people actually opening some new factories.

“I am very supportive of seeing if we can open more factories in the UK. There is an opportunity to look at derelict factories to see if we can re-open them again in an intelligent way.

“Is suddenly all our production coming back here? No. Is there an opportunity to do some production here? Hopefully there is and we’re going to try,” he said.

Green’s remarks echo the ambitions of the Drapers SOS Save Our Skills campaign, which launched last month after manufacturers said they were struggling to cope with a sudden surge in demand for their products and capacity.

There is clear evidence of UK retailers, including Green’s own Bhs chain and footwear giant Clarks, looking closer to home to source some product categories which are no longer cost effective to produce offshore.

Rising input prices and high labour charges in the Far East combined with massive competition for capacity in China and increased freight costs have made the UK increasingly attractive as a potential sourcing bed.

The short lead times that production in the domestic market offers are also attractive given the volatile consumer confidence that has characterised high street trading of late. If capacity is available, then UK production enables retailers to work closer to the season with lead times of just a few weeks against the months it takes to sample, produce and then ship from China.

See Friday’s issue of Drapers magazine for a special in-depth report into British manufacturing.

We need your support. Join our SOS campaign and post your comments below.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Is this really "breaking" news, guys?

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  • Sir Philip Green supporting UK manufacturing? That is a very significant retailer - probably the most significant in fashion - throwing his weight behind the stated ambition of the Government to increase manufacturing in the UK.
    Manufacturers are trying to take advantage of the present growth opportunities but have relayed to Drapers that they need the backing of retailers to be able to overcome the many hurdles they face. Green is potentially a brilliant vehicle and powerful figure for them to have on side.

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  • I find it really ironic that a someone like Green has the audacity to talk about UK manufacturing when he and others like him did so much to destroy it in the 80s and 90s. Now he is trying to act like a knight in shining armour. As soon as the Far East becomes more convenient again he will drop the UK without a moment’s thought. It hypocritical and sickening.

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  • I totally agree with "anonymous". I worked in UK manufacturing through 70s, 80s and 90s, and it was Green, the large supermarkets & discount retailers who screwed UK manufacturers so far on price, at the same time demanding the highest quality standards, etc. etc. that they could not continue in business. They went to the Far East and lo and behold sacrificed quality for price every time. Where do these retailers think all the skilled workers needed for textile factories are going to come from? They had to get other jobs! I agree it is hypocritical and sickening.

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  • Philip Green is the perfect example of why the manufacturing industry is non existent, Now that the Chinese are saying no to him and other, discount retailerss cant throw their weight around anymore. hes trying to look like a saint. haha what a joke. Unfortunatlky its the consumer that cops out. People forget what Mr Green did a multi BILLION pound dividend within one year of taking ove another Hight Street retailer and at the same time he screwed his suppliers for his own personal greed....

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  • Dear Mr.Green, if you are reading this, I will open a factory up for you, to make goods in the UK, I've got 25 years experience in UK manufacturing, although I had to close it down and move off-shore - I can still do it here, and could expand my sampling plant. I need a customer like you, with buying power. If you are really serious, then send me an e-mail, and I will come and speak to you and your team, and show you what we can do for you. We can do it for you no problem , ask the drapers team to drop me a line, and then I will foramlly introduce ourselves. I await your repsonse. Thank you

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