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Wensum looks into return to UK manufacturing

Large-scale manufacturing of premium tailoring may return to the North of England under an initiative being considered by Wensum Tailoring, part of Wing Tai, the Hong Kong-based property, retailing and manufacturing group.

Drapers understands that Wensum, which also owns the Bladen countrywear brand, has told customers it hopes to make deliveries of Made in England product for autumn 14. The wholesale cost of a two-piece suit, it is understood, may start at about £250 and rise from there depending on cloth and the level of finish.

Wensum was the last major tailoring manufacturer in the UK. It closed its factory in Norwich in 2005 before shifting production primarily to Mauritius. After running into financial problems it had been acquired in 2002 by Wing Tai, which also had Gieves & Hawkes in its group. Wensum was not part of the deal when Wing Tai sold Gieves to Trinity, part of Li & Fung, last year.

The Wensum production is wellregarded in the tailoring sector but a Made in England label would make it even more attractive to a number of stockists. It is understood that the idea of a British factory has been backed by major UK customers.

Independent stockists are also keen. “They could really market this as something special,” said Ashley Smart, of Robert Smart Menswear in York, a Bladen customer. “It can only be positive for the menswear industry.”

Jaspal Calotier, managing director of Wensum Tailoring, told Drapers:

“All I can say at this stage is that we are looking into the possibility [of manufacturing in the UK].”

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