Retailers Want To Invest in UK Factories But Change Is Needed
Last week chief executive of New Look, Anders Kristiansen, riled up the industry with his hard-hitting comments on UK manufacturers.
In an article featured in The Times Kristiansen stated that the “vast majority” of UK clothing factories have worse ethical standards than those in the Far East. His comments were a major blow to those, such as FashionCapital’s sister company Fashion Enter, that are striving to be as transparent and squeaky clean as possible.
(Transparent and proud – the Fashion Enter Factory in North London pictured right)
However, all is not lost and the debate on UK manufacturing it is hoped will enforce positive change. ASOS.com chief executive Nick Beighton responded and said: “Our goal is to bring customers the best fashion as quickly as possible, and there’s nothing faster than manufacturing in the UK.
“We would like to triple the amount of product we source from the UK over the next five-years and based on our experience there are great factories in Leicester with the capacity to help us make that happen.”
ASOS.com certainly mean business and is one of Fashion Enter’s key production clients based in North London. Unfortunately the focus here isn’t on the success stories and factories in Leicester have been highlighted as “ticking time bombs” due to reported unsafe and illegal practices. Kristiansen from New Look stated that the company could double its £35m orders from Leicester factories but was “afraid of using these units because what is going on is just so plainly wrong.”
Surely factories on home soil should be easier to audit and manage than those thousands of miles away? This October retailers have agreed to meet Leicester’s mayor Peter Soulsby and representatives from HM Revenue & Customs, the local police and fire brigade to discuss how they can enforce stricter laws and good working practices.
There have also been considerations by government to enforce powers to close factories that do not comply. Kristiansen added that if the laws are enforced the company would invest. He feels that currently a blind eye is being turned and if the UK manufacturing industry really wants to soar post-Brexit it needs to have enforced and stringent practices in place to create a growing industry to be proud of.