Investment in textile manufacturing to create 20,000 jobs in the UK by 2020 according to the Alliance Report

From the Princess’ wedding dress to F1 cars, planes and space crafts, UK textile manufacturing is still leading the world in many fields. The Alliance Report: ‘Repatriation of UK Textiles Manufacture’, launched at the House of Commons, is the biggest study in twenty-years on supply and demand in UK textile manufacturing. The report was published by The Alliance Project, a not-for-profit organisation established to examine the potential for repatriating textiles manufacturing to the UK. According to the report, the UK textile industry is worth £9 billion to the economy and is experiencing year-on-year export and domestic growth. Government figures show that last year alone 5,000 new jobs were created in textile manufacturing in the UK.

The Alliance Report highlights:

• Post-recession growth is coming from ‘micro-companies’ rather than OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) or prime manufactures. 
• A further 15,000 jobs in UK textile manufacturing could be created by 2020, making a total of 20’000 since 2013. 
• The value of UK textiles is worth just under £9bn to the economy and is growing. 
• Significant capabilities still exist in traditional sectors such as yarn-spinning, knitting and weaving alongside growth in technical textiles, materials and composites. 
• Rationale for sourcing from low cost countries has weakened due consumer behaviour demanding shorter lead times (fast fashion) plus a demand for UK made homeware. 
• Increasing costs from competing countries making UK sourcing more attractive. 
• Traditional areas of manufacturing are focussed around high unemployment pockets.

The Alliance Project is also delighted to have seen a number of retailers supporting the repatriation of textile manufacturing to the UK. Of particular note is the success of the National N Brown Textiles Growth Programme, the first ever textile grant growth programme in British history, led by N Brown Group, the online, catalogue and stores retailer and supported by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), Manchester Growth Company, M&S, ASOS, Roland Mouret and other world class manufacturers.

The Programme announced today that in its first year of operation 1,600 jobs and 115 apprenticeship positions were created in England. Launched in 2013, as an incentive scheme funded by a government regional growth fund to drive investment in the textile supply chain in Britain, the Programme has to date invested £9 million pounds in grants to 94 companies thereby leveraging an additional £30 million of private sector investment. The private sector bid to the fourth round of the Regional Growth Fund secured £12.8m of funds.

This investment is most concentrated in three regions: Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Lancashire, notably achieving growth in some of the country’s most underperforming areas of the economy.

This news comes as a potential second tranche of funding to the government regional growth fund is due to be announced by BIS.

Paul Short, Chair of the N Brown Group bid, said: "The National N Brown Textile Growth Programme has only been operational for 12 months in the North of the UK and has already created over 1,600 jobs. We want to thank the Government and all our partners for supporting us in our bid to drive investment in the textile supply chain in Britain. Our joint efforts clearly demonstrate that retailers, by working together with local and national government, can have a real economic impact.”

Angela Spindler, CEO of N Brown Group added: “We are very supportive of the initiative and, as a retailer headquartered in Manchester, we are delighted by the job creation in the region.

“The first tranche of the funding has been allocated and while the results so far have been phenomenal, more needs to be done to drive textile manufacturing in the UK. As a business, we only source a small percentage from the UK, but there is a recognition of the growth potential in textile manufacturing. 
“Retailers are desperate to increase capacity in the UK and this investment fund will allow us as an industry to grow that capacity quicker than we would otherwise have been able to. The industry needs all the support it can get to help meet this demand. This will also need parallel investment in Skills from the Government, as evidenced in the Alliance Report, which reveals a huge crisis in skills.”

John Dixon, Executive Director General Merchandise, Marks & Spencers commented: “The report shows what a positive effect a resurgent UK textile industry has on job creation, skills and innovation on our own doorstep. That’s why we’re backing the Alliance report and the Textile Growth Fund and why we continue to invest in the industry through products like our Best of British range and our textile apprenticeship scheme.”

The UK Fashion & Textile Association stated: “The UKFT recognises the changes in manufacturing and supply chain management over the last 20 years. The Alliance Project has both identified the remaining capacity in key regions and established its provenance and opportunity for growth. UKFT fully supports this key project and its outcomes and welcomes the future funding potential that celebrates our industry, its future and its growing contribution to the UK economy in growth and jobs.”

Nigel Lugg, Group Chairman of Quantum Clothing and Prominent Europe said: “I passionately believe in the future of the UK clothing and textile industry. UK manufacturing capacity is increasingly important for UK companies. Not only are UK manufacturers highly skilled but working with companies on shore can have significant advantages in terms of delivery times, flexibility and quality control.

“The work the Alliance Project has undertaken is extremely important in helping UK brands identify the manufacturers that still thrive in the UK as well as recognising that there is a need to support this sector to ensure it continues to grow and provide great opportunities for start-up companies and develop young people entering the industry. This project is a great advert of Government and Companies working in partnership.”

Mike Blackburn, chair of GM LEP commented: “Further to the growth deal announcement, the launch of the Textiles Alliance Report is fantastic news for Greater Manchester. This report takes a timely and strategic overview of the sector on behalf of the UK, positioning Greater Manchester and the wider north firmly at the forefront of driving investment into this important growth industry.

“The fact we’ve seen 1,600 jobs created by the N Brown Textiles Growth Programme since its launch back in 2013 is testament to the sheer effort that is going into this project. Not only is it having an impact on textiles but also on the wider supply chain and its governance – informing the approach of Greater Manchester’s Manufacturing for example. Given the legacy of the textiles industry in this region, we can only hope to see this project go from strength to strength."