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River Island's UK production contributes to bestsellers

River Island’s move to up its UK production has helped it put new product in-store quicker and contributed to bestsellers, according to reports.

The high street retailer’s chief executive, Ben Lewis, told The Times that River Island had increased the number of items manufactured in the UK by 50% in the last 12 months because of rising labour costs in China. Having a closer connection with factories in the UK had meant River Island was able to get “new fashion” to its customers “much quicker”.

The Times reports Lewis saying: “As a result, some of those products have become absolute bestsellers. We can get more of them and work closely with the factories.”

He added: “In this kind of tough trading environment, having a short line of supply is even more important.”

River Island will focus on using the UK as a production base to facilitate “fast fashion”, playing to the strengths of UK factories and skills.

Drapers has long highlighted the issue of declining manufacturing skills in the UK. Last year, we reported that brands and retailers have begun to look again at UK production bases because of rising labour costs and increased competition for capacity overseas.

Growth, however, has been slowed by a lack of skilled workers, forcing some manufacturers to turn down orders.

Our Save Our Skills campaign, supported by key industry figures as well as The Duke of York, has lobbied for government-supported apprenticeships since launch last March.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Lovemitsy

    Little too late.We used to supply Top shop with all UK Production,having a fully factored factory employing some 95 workers producing,25-30,000 units a week.All clocks are turned now.The stroes just shot themselves in the foot.What did they expect,to recruit skilled workers back??
    We can still supply the stores however,using our Europe production and delivery within 5 weeks.K & A Fashions Manufacturing ltd,always believed this will happen and be happy to quote competive prices and deliveries.

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  • 13th February 2012

    I applaud River island for moving produciton back to the UK and hope to see the return of more clothing manufacture. However most clothing requires buttons, as the largest button manufacturer in the UK we would like to be part of this resurgence. So, please all you UK garment manufacturers contact us with your requirements and stop paying high carriage costs etc to import the trims for your garments.

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  • I am a student studying international fashion marketing-my chosen dissertation topic is the potential revival of British research to date has led me to believe that a lot of the clothing made and sourced domestically is at a high price point, can anyone explain to me or suggest how River Island is able to use British manufacturers and keep their prices competitive on the high street? thanks

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  • I think and forgive me if im wrong that the following factors may be the reason why the UK is favoured in certain situations:
    1. A short lead time is vital when a skew takes off and the extra cost is balanced against potential loss of profits if a product is delivered later, as well as capital being tied up in a skew that has not worked due to product life cycle being surpassed.

    2. When you take into account long lead times in the far east and long shipment dates a local producer who can provide the product at a more expensive price and faster delivery date this aids profitability. This can be justified when there are added benefits of credit terms.

    3. If you can source the product in the far east quickly the air freight costs are very expensive and you balance that against a local producer. Also duties and VAT combined with payment to the supplier use up precious working capital.

    4. Local large importers can work on small margins and service your needs as well as an overseas supplier with a 10-15 % profit which can mean a lot of the business can be sourced locally although in the strictest sense this is not UK product.

    5. There is cheap labour that work at the basic pay level combined with expensive efficient machinery and good imported/local fabric at competitive rates.

    6.RMB is appreciating against the USD and inflation has been rising in China this has been increasing the costs

    I could be wrong but i suspect this may help you a little

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