Turkey is aiming to increase its total clothing exports to US$19bn in 2014

Turkey is aiming to increase its total clothing exports to US$19bn in 2014

Brands and retailers in the UK and other parts of Europe are "coming back" to Turkey as a source of textiles and clothing as they seek to diversify their supply chains away from Asia.

The president of the Turkish Clothing Manufacturers' Association (TCMA) says Turkey is targeting strong growth in exports of textiles and clothing to the UK.

Cem Negrin told a conference in London last week that the Turkish textile and apparel industry is looking to capitalise on the growing number of British brands and retailers looking to source outside south, east and southeast Asia.

Speaking at the inaugural Fashion & Apparel Zone: Turkey, a conference and exhibition jointly organised by TCMA and the British Chamber of Commerce of Turkey (BCCT), he said that despite the cost of sourcing from Turkey being higher than Asia, the flexibility and quality offered by Turkish suppliers is proving increasingly attractive to brands and retailers in the UK and other parts of Europe.

"Even though Turkish production is more expensive, our customers prefer to make last-minute buys from Turkey," he said. "We are producing new collections at a high quality and in a very short period of time." A typical delivery time for the supply of Turkish products to the UK is around four or five days.

Negrin said Turkey is aiming to increase its total clothing exports to US$19bn in 2014, which would represent growth of 9.2%.

Turkey's clothing exports were up 8% to $17.4bn in 2013, according to TCMA data, with the European Union (EU) accounting for around 70% of Turkey's clothing exports.

Negrin noted that Turkey is the third biggest exporter of apparel to the UK, behind China and Bangladesh, with the value of British imports of Turkish clothing worth $2.1bn in 2013. He said Turkey is targeting further growth to the UK over the next few years.

He noted that the UK is recovering more quickly from the global economic downturn than the EU as a whole, pointing to IMF figures showing the UK economy grew 1.8% in 2013, with growth of 2.9% forecast for 2014, compared with overall EU growth of 0.2% in 2013, and an expansion of 1.5% forecast for 2014.

Sourcing and selling opportunities
This was the first event organised by TCMA held overseas. Its aim was to highlight the benefits of sourcing textiles and clothing from Turkey, as well as the opportunities for UK retailers and fashion brands of opening stores in Turkey. The associated exhibition showcased textile and clothing products from 22 Turkish companies.

Negrin said the TCMA and the BCCT have signed a memorandum of understanding designed to "maintain good relations between the two countries". He added that opportunities to learn about sourcing options in Turkey include the Istanbul Fashion Conference organised by TCMA, held in Istanbul every year in May, which he said regularly attracts leading UK brands and retailers including Arcadia, Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, George at Asda, Alexander McQueen, Antonio Berardi, Tesco and Sainsbury's.

Meanwhile, Chris Gaunt, chairman of the BCCT, noted that Tesco has a large procurement office in Istanbul, employing around 40 people, with the majority focused on sourcing textiles and clothing from Turkey.

Gaunt stressed that a growing number of UK brands and retailers are sourcing from Turkey.

"The message we hear more often these days is that people don't want to go to China," he said. "And there are more Turkish companies being contacted who used to supply the UK and Europe ten years ago. People went to countries like China, Bangladesh and Egypt, but now they are coming back."