The value of UK clothing and textile production increased by 2.5% to £9.1bn between 2014 and 2016, but new investment could offer even greater potential as Brexit looms, interim findings of the Textiles Growth Programme has found.
Textiles Growth Programme
The programme received £27m via the government’s Regional Growth Fund in 2012 and attracted a further £123m from the private sector through the support of 340 British manufacturers.
The latest findings show the project created or safeguarded 4,450 manufacturing jobs and created 380 apprenticeships over the four-year period.
The UK’s clothing and textile manufacturing workforce now stands at 127,500 people across all skill levels from packing and warehouse staff through to board directors, the ONS Labour Force Survey indicates.
The scheme focused on areas that had previously had a history of textiles manufacturing, but had since struggled, spanning Greater Manchester, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Nottingham and Derbyshire.
The programme is being hailed as one of the most successful Regional Growth Fund projects ever, as it achieved growth in the micro supply chain with no prime manufacturers for the first time.
The industry now has the potential to add 10,000 new jobs and £500m more to the UK’s economy each year by 2020, it said.
“The textile industry was widely thought to be extinct in the UK,” said Sir Vince Cable, former secretary of state for business, innovation and skills. “But some outstanding entrepreneurs, using new technology plus modest government help under coalition industrial strategy, have turned things around. Reshoring is real and growing.”
Lorna Fitzsimons, founder and director of the Textiles Growth Programme, added: “There is still more to do, but this is a success story no one saw coming.
“Getting growth into what is a primarily micro supply chain with hardly any prime manufacturers left in the UK was something none of the economists thought possible,” she said. “With 86% of fashion and textile manufactures being micro and 94% being SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), this is a watershed project that is key to the future of government industry and inclusive growth policy.”
A conference will be held later today in Manchester, bringing together retailers, manufacturers and the government to discuss the opportunities ahead and the next steps.
Retailers in attendance include Marks & Spencer, Asos, N Brown Group, Burberry and Boohoo, as well as suppliers including Jack Masters, Abraham Moon, English Fine Cottons and Barcode Design.
Carol Kane, joint chief executive at Boohoo, said the etailer is proud to source more than 50% of its products from the UK: “We are a fast fashion business with a focus on speed to market, so being able to manufacture our products in the UK allows us to lead the way in offering the very latest trends and styles.
“The industry is going from strength to strength. There is an abundance of skilled and talented people driving the industry forward and we are excited to be able to support the industry as its true growth potential is recognised.”