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The Alliance Report: Repatriation of UK Textiles Manufacture

Andrew Filarowski reports on the recent launch of The Alliance Report

The Alliance Report: Repatriation of UK Textiles Manufacture, which was launched at the Houses of Parliament on 9th February 2015, is the biggest study in 20 years on supply and demand in UK textile manufacturing.

The report claims that 20,000 new jobs could be created in UK textile manufacturing by 2020 as more companies source their fabrics from the UK.

The Alliance Project is a not-for-profit organisation aimed at repatriating textile manufacturing to the UK. The programme is led by retailers N Brown, Marks & Spencer and ASOS and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

The report said that the UK still has significant skills in traditional sectors such as yarn-spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing and finishing alongside growth in technical textiles, materials and composites. The programme funded through Regional Growth Fund Four from January 2014 to Summer 2015 had supported 1,625 jobs by January 2015.

To date the programme has invested £9m in grants to 94 companies, including firms such as AW Hainsworth, Abraham Moon & Sons, Camira Fabrics, H&C Whitehead, Spectrum Yarns, Wooltex UK and Z Hinchcliffe and Sons, Park Valley Mills, and Bulmer and Lumb.

The investment is concentrated on three regions: West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Lancashire. This has leveraged an additional £30m of private sector investment.

The fact that traditional areas of textile manufacturing are to be found in areas of high unemployment has also boosted Government support.

Ms Lorna Fitzsimons, who heads up the project said changes in fashion are playing a major part in the decision to source fabric from the UK. “Whether you’re an e-tailer or a retailer you’ve got to be on trend. They have to find supply immediately and can’t have long lead times. There are now a lot more smaller orders from closer to home.” Another driver is the trend to change furniture and home furnishings far more frequently than a generation ago.

The report also noted an increased demand for UK made homewares while increasing costs from competing countries are making UK sourcing more attractive.

According to the report, the UK textile industry is worth £9bn to the economy and supports 90, 000 to 100,000 employees and is experiencing year-on-year export and domestic growth.

Government figures show that 5,000 new jobs were created in textile manufacturing between 2012 and 2013.

The next round of Regional Growth Fund has already been allocated to this project and amounts to £19.5 million.

John Dixon, executive director general merchandise at Marks & Spencer, said: “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.”

The SDC has been involved both directly through the Colour Experience and its TCC course in projects aimed at raising the profile of various aspects of textile manufacturing with secondary schools and this will continue into 2015. The Textile Coloration Certificate is recognised as a vital part of the development of the skills base within the coloration and finishing section of the industry through discussion between the SDC, employers enrolling people on TCC and the Alliance project.

The full report is available to read here.

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