UK Factories Are Getting A Raw Press Deal
As a sister company to a fully transparent, ethically run clothing factory based in North London (Fashion Enter) the Made in the UK campaign is obviously close to our hearts. However, Dispatches on Channel 4 last January, and now the chief executive of New Look, Anders Kristiansen, are painting a rather bleak picture of UK based production…
In a recent article with The Times, Anders Kristiansen stated that the “vast majority” of UK clothing factories have worse ethical standards than those in the Far East. He continued to accuse UK factories of underpaying staff and failing health and safety standards, problems he found across the country. So much so that New Look has stopped using over 100 UK factories over the last three years due to standards not being met. “Four years ago we had 190 suppliers in the UK. Now we have 12, as many are not ethical and we don’t want to source unethically,” he said.
“The vast majority of all UK factories have issues with health and safety and salaries. They have people on benefits and pay them a couple of pounds an hour. We’ve audited so many factories and they just don’t pass,” Kristiansen continued. This is coming from a retailer that mass produces fast fashion in the far East. His claims have ignited a mixed reaction from the industry.
Kate Hills, founder of Make It British and Meet the Manufacturer trade show, is appalled by the article.
She says: “Vast majority??? What are they talking about? I would have thought better of The Times than to make sweeping statements like this that aren’t backed up by proper data or adequate research.
“What cheap reporting like this does is put the good guys out of business, because other retailers will now shy away from UK manufacturers after reading this in The Times and believing it to be true.
“I’d love to know how many garment factories in the UK the journalist for The Times had actually stepped into before he wrote this. None I suspect.
“I would recommend that next time The Times decides to make such a sweeping statement about UK garment manufacturing they come and talk to me first.”
While the Dispatches programme back in January highlighted the need to stamp out illegal practices in the UK production industry, more could be done to ensure that factories are compliant when they are right on our doorstep.
ASOS.com chief executive Nick Beighton told Drapers he agreed that UK manufacturing, particularly in Leicester, needs more support from industry bodies and the government: “Someone has to change their thinking for others to follow. We’ll put volume behind it but we’d like help to do it.”
Here at FashionCapital & Fashion Enter CEO Jenny Holloway adds:
“It’s with a heavy heart that I read the comments of Anders Kristiansen. With the might of New Look the opportunity for ethical and sustainable factories is literally on your Mortimer doorstep. Fashion Enter Ltd is a totally compliant, ethical factory in North London and we manufacture 10,000 garments a week for companies such as ASOS.com. We are Fast Forward approached (Leading Status no less) and New Look was actually involved in this new audit trail and it works.
“With Brexit rapidly approaching all the big guns of retail and etail now need to seriously review the supply base closer to home – the Made in Britain label is “something” to be proud of – lets work together!”
Working together is indeed the way forward, along with acknowledgment for those that are ensuring the best of practices and creating a ‘Made in the UK’ trademark that has values at its core.