UK retailers are increasingly turning to Mauritius in favour of the Far East for the manufacture of jerseys, knits and denim, attracted by shorter lead times and lack of export tariffs.
Arcadia, Marks & Spencer, Primark and Asos are already sourcing from the country, but others including lifestyle brand Joules and home shopping group N Brown are now mulling the move.
Both these retailers attended the Mauritian Fashion Fiesta, held in London on April 3-4 at the Emirates Stadium, where 25 textile manufacturers from the country exhibited.
Joules fabric manager Ivor Blakeley said the company was “seriously considering” a move to Mauritius for its knitwear production as it is “closer to home”.
He said: “We’re looking at Mauritius in particular as the lead times are not as long and the factories have lower minimums. We currently source from China and India but as the cost of living in China rises it is only going to get more expensive there.”
N Brown buyer Sarah Hodskinson said she had met some “strong potential suppliers” at the event, organised by Enterprise Mauritius.
“We see great opportunities in Mauritius and a move would be very feasible,” Hodskinson added. “Some of the companies are doing more specialist product categories like stretch denim, using new cutting-edge technology. The design input is strong and they are very vertically integrated which is great for us. The shorter lead times and no duty on orders is also a big plus.”
Nikki Gorrie, trend forecaster at Mauritius’ biggest textile manufacturer Compagnie Mauricienne de Textile (CMT), said UK retailers including Next, M&S and River Island work with the company for its “fashion forward design”. CMT is Arcadia’s largest single supplier of jerseys.