The Textiles Growth programme is focused on creating and safeguarding jobs

The Textiles Growth programme is focused on creating and safeguarding jobs

UK textile and clothing manufacturing is enjoying a revival, new figures suggest, with production increasing by 2.5% to GBP9.1bn (US$11.4bn) over the last two years.

The industry has increased by GBP200m between 2014 and 2016, the Textiles Growth Programme revealed at a conference held in Manchester yesterday (12 April), helped by GBP150m in private and public investment over four years.

The Textiles Growth Programme is focused on creating and safeguarding jobs through a grant-funded scheme – supporting capital projects, skills training and research and development in the industry.

The programme, which helped to create 1,600 jobs and 115 apprenticeship positions in England in its first year, is led by online, catalogue and stores retailer N Brown Group, and supported by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), Manchester Growth Company, Marks & Spencer, Asos, Roland Mouret and other brands.

To date, 340 manufacturing companies have invested a total of GBP123m in the programme, creating an additional 4,450 jobs and 380 apprenticeships. According to an ONS Labour Force survey, the UK has now has a textiles workforce of 127,500 people across all skill levels from packing and warehouse staff through to board directors.

As a result, figures show production of UK fashion and textiles has increased by 28% since 2012 and is now worth GBP9.1bn, with 26% exported outside EU.

"Five years ago, Lord Alliance challenged Sir Vince Cable, the then Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, to recognise the opportunity for increasing UK fashion and textiles manufacturing," says Lorna Fitzsimons, founder and director of the Textiles Growth Programme. "This started us on a journey which led to the most extensive study on supply and demand for UK fashion and textiles manufacturing in decades. There is still more to do but this is a success story no one saw coming.

"Getting growth into a primarily micro supply chain with hardly any prime manufacturers left in the UK was something none of the economists thought possible. With 86% of fashion and textile manufactures being micro and 94% SMEs, this is a watershed project that is key to the future of government industry and inclusive growth policy."

Due to the programme's success, Innovate UK says it has reclassified the sector as a 'high value' industry unlocking potential funding streams for UK clothing and textiles companies from Central Government and International bodies such as International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Sir Vince Cable said at the event: "The textile industry was widely thought to be extinct in the UK, but some outstanding entrepreneurs, using new technology plus modest government help under coalition industrial strategy, have turned things around. Reshoring is real and growing."

Carol Kane, CEO of UK online fashion retailer Boohoo.com, says the company sources over 50% of its products from the UK.

"Not only are we delighted to support the British textile manufacturing industry and the creation of employment opportunities for workers in the UK, having our suppliers nearby is also a crucial part of our business model. We are a fast-fashion business with a focus on speed to market, so being able to manufacture our products in the UK allows us to lead the way in offering the very latest trends and styles."