Bring Manufacturing Back To Britain – Yes We Can!
Last April during Fashion Question Time at the Houses of Parliament I asked the question “With factories based thousands of miles away and work being sub-contracted out it can be extremely difficult for a business to ensure total compliance. What incentives could governments introduce to encourage local manufacturing?
(Image right asking the local manufacturing question)
The response from the panel which included: Mary Creagh MP, Livia Firth, Eco Age Creative Director; Antti Karhunen, from the European Commission for Sustainable Growth and Development; Jenny Holdcroft, Policy Director IndustriALL; Mike Cain, MP, shadow minister for International Development and Allanna McAspurn CEO of MADE-BY, was rather disappointing.
While Allanna was the most enthusiastic about the practicalities of manufacturing returning to UK soil the majority of the panel felt the supply chain issue was a global one and that problems of exploitation and unethical practices could go on anywhere in the world including here. The crux of the matter is financially mass production will go where the labour force is cheap and the population is in desperate need of employment. My question I felt was reduced to a naïve ideology in this global, profit driven business.
(Image left: The Fashion Enter Factory in North London with CEO Jenny Holloway, local, ethical and proud!)
Today however, the reality of manufacturing in the UK seems to be strengthening month on month. More and more brands are seeking accountability – and there is also the question of cutting down on that unnecessary carbon footprint. How ludicrous is it that one garment has to circulate the world before hitting the shop floor?
Hearing that another high street brand is opting for more UK production is a positive step in the right direction for us here at Fashion Enter (sister company to FashionCapital) where local and ethical manufacturing is very close to our hearts.
The latest high street brand to announce production on home soil is DFS – the soft furnishings retailer. Admittedly their move has been driven by ‘cost pressures’ but where one leads others will follow.
(Image right: GB athlete Laura Trott on a DFS sofa)
DFS Chief Executive Ian Filby said:
“There are a number of rebalancing decisions we can do around sourcing, across major suppliers and changing locations. We have flexibility to bring a lot of manufacturing into the UK and are a lot less Far East dependent.”
DFS, a Team GB sponsor, have made this announcement on a record year with revenues up 7% at £756 million. The brand is forward planning, taking into account the rising costs of an overseas supply chain and the possible impact of the Brexit vote.
With so many factors coming into play, economical, ethical, sustainable, environmental, surely there has never been a better time to bring manufacturing home?