Blog: Leonie BarrieChina cottons on to Wigan

Leonie Barrie | 1 June 2007

For the past few decades the UK textile and clothing industry has slowly seen its textile mills and garment factories cast aside in the rush to relocate production to cheaper locations overseas. Some have simply found themselves unable to compete with the rock bottom prices offered by countries like China and have gone out of business altogether, while others have maintained a design and pre-production presence here and shifted the needle point work offshore as the laws of economics demand.

But is the tide about to turn? Negotiations are underway – and fairly advanced by all accounts – between Wigan Council and the Chinese government to set up a textile manufacturing hub in the town to help Chinese companies get closer to their European customers.

It’s an exciting prospect, and one that will give great hope to the highly skilled workers who still remain in the area. But a lot of questions remain and it will be fascinating to see how they are tackled. What types of products will be made there? What about cost issues? And how will the UK operations complement those of the Chinese investors elsewhere? It’s also a smart move as far as quotas are concerned. China's exports of textiles and clothing to the EU are covered by a voluntary quota agreement that expires at the end of 2007 and may well be replaced with a new raft of restrictions, so having a local production base will help offset any new limits. 

For all their cheap manpower and hugely efficient textile and clothing production facilities, Chinese factories can’t change the one thing that increasingly matters in today’s fashion environment: their location, and hence speed to market. Earlier this year supermarket chain Asda said it was going to stock an entire range of clothing made exclusively in the UK under the George brand.

China to set up manufacturing hub in Wigan?


BLOG

Higher worker wages – who pays?

There continues to be a disconnect between buying departments and compliance teams when it comes to costing labour in price negotiations. So who should pay for a minimum wage increase?...

BLOG

Trump tariff dispute rumbles on

The US has escalated its trade threats to China after President Donald Trump said he is considering tariffs on an additional $200bn of Chinese goods if China "refuses to change its practices."...

BLOG

Trump spares textile machinery in tariff spat

Hundreds of US imports from China will be hit with an additional 25% tariff from next month – but to the relief of the US textile, apparel and footwear industry, most of the equipment used in the dome...

BLOG

Esquel's eco-friendly manufacturing complex

Hong Kong-based Esquel Group, the world's largest woven shirt maker, has been bedding-in operations at a ground-breaking new $313.3m eco-friendly manufacturing complex in southern China....

just-style homepage



Forgot your password?