Bring Back UK Manufacturing

On the One Show tonight they did a piece about UK manufacturing and how a number of firms were moving production back from overseas. They covered a Yorkshire textile mill and explained how there just isn’t the staff to keep up with the production they need. It is certainly true that more mid market brands are choosing to manufacture here, because of issues with quality and time delays. The ‘Made in Britain’ label also has a lot of weight in our ultra modern era where provenance is key. Yes its still cheaper to produce in the Far East, but the trend for heritage has improved the position of the UK industry greatly. The Made in Britain label is particularly popular in Japan and the US.

Many UK manufacturers have reported around 30% growth in orders over the last year and see that growth continuing through this year. This must be fantastic news for our economy?! Unfortunately it is not the first time that I’ve heard concern over the state of our workforce. manufacturing skills have died out and people just don’t won’t to do those jobs. I think this is such a great opportunity for us to help ourselves out of the recession, perhaps the Government can step in to support training and apprenticeships. Watch this space I guess, I certainly plan to do some more investigations.

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Supply Crisis 2010

I like it when Drapers arrives through my door each Friday. A point that just jumped out at me this morning was Drapers Review of the Year where it talks about the supply crisis. I’ve already mentioned the cotton issues, which was the major cause of supply issues, however drapers also state, “with rising labour costs in China – pay went up 30% this year – businesses were forced to look elsewhere, notably Bangladesh.”

I am aware that this is the reality, but it makes me so sad that it is felt to be the only option. The Chinese workers deserve that pay increase, but of course consumers in the West are accustomed to low prices. Retailers have spent the last few decades chasing cheap labour, sooner or later consumers are just going to have to accept how much it costs to make clothes ethically.
Bangladesh is still one of the worst (ethically speaking) places to manufacture, and therefore the cheapest. Just this week 31 workers were killed in a factory fire in Bangladesh, and 200 injured.

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