Unleashed’s quarterly index measures the business health and performance of manufacturers from the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
The data showed that of the 16 manufacturing categories analysed for the UK, clothing, footwear and accessories ranked in sixth position, which was above the national average of 77.
The index is calculated from a number of key performance metrics, including sales, purchasing, and internal efficiencies that impact stocking levels and lead times across different manufacturing categories. A score of 50 points or more is said to indicate that a sector is performing well against these metrics.
The company explained the Q3 2023 index scores were based on more than 400,000 data points from 2,600 manufacturing firms using its inventory management system.
Jarrod Adam, head of product at Unleashed, emphasised that manufacturers in every industry category were hit by challenges from all directions in 2023 – including high inflation and rising borrowing costs.
However, he highlighted: “While the cost of living crisis has got some people tightening their purse strings, fashion manufacturers could have fared remarkably well. High street clothing is a relatively affordable luxury compared to bigger ticket items, and demand can be bolstered by social media influencers, personalised communications and discount codes.”
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How is UK’s fashion supplier industry faring
The authors of the report noted that even though the UK’s clothing, footwear and accessories category is on an upward trajectory, it has dropped from early 2022.
Cosmetics and personal care sat at the top of the UK manufacturing table with industrial machinery, raw material and equipment sitting closely behind with a tied score of 98.
According to the index, overstocking is a problem that has worsened across the board, however, the clothing, footwear and accessories industry has managed to keep its overstock levels low at just £52,475 ($66,380), down from £77,400 in 2021.
Unleashed also highlighted that the clothing, footwear and accessories industry has managed to reduce its post-covid lead time recovery to 27 days, which is down from the soaring heights of 57 days in 2022 when supply chains struggled in the midst of the pandemic.
Adam conncluded that regardless of whether a fashion manufacturer is a supplier to a household name, or trade as an independent fashion brand, it is well-positioned to meet rising demand thanks to the fine-tuning of the sector’s inventory management processes.