Retailers called on to invest in UK manufacturing

Retailers must forge solid relationships with British manufacturers to help strengthen the UK textiles industry, according to Savile Row’s Patrick Grant.

Speaking at the Meet the Manufacturer conference and trade show on June 3, the creative director of Norton & Son and E. Tautz and star of BBC2’s Great British Sewing Bee said: “The future of UK manufacturing has to be investment in skills, investment in machinery and investment in the fabric of our factories.

“Genuine partnerships between the large retailers and manufacturers – not just in the small, niche product lines, but as a genuine, fundamental part of everything that they do – can create an awful lot of jobs and an awful lot of value.”

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Some 3,000 retailers, manufacturers and designers descended on London for this year’s Meet the Manufacturer – a two-day conference and trade show, organised by Make it British.

Grant headlined the conference, which included more than 20 industry experts passing on their advice and real-life experiences of building Great British brands, how to successfully manufacture in the UK and how to work with British factories.

Speakers included British Fashion Council chief executive Caroline Rush, Who Made Your Pants? managing director Becky John and Dr Martens chairman David Suddens.

Over 100 companies from across the fashion and textile sectors came together to exhibit at this year’s trade show.

For the first time, the event included a fashion show, in collaboration with the Leicestershire Textiles Hub and styled by celebrity TV fashion and celebrity stylist Zoe Lem.

Kate Hills, founder and CEO of Make it British enthused: “It has been great to see so many leading industry figures coming together to support UK manufacturing and to discuss how we can grow textile and garment production in the UK.

“There is an air of confidence in the industry that I haven’t seen for years and a real positivity about the future. Many of the big retailers turned out to hear the discussions and we now need them to put their money where their mouth is and start placing substantial orders with the factories here.”

Commenting on the event Oasis & Warehouse ethical trading manager Anita Nagarajan remarked: “I gained an enormous amount of insight, knowledge, awareness of issues important to the audience and renewed passion. It’s probably the best conference I’ve ever attended: inspirational, exciting and not afraid to devote time to difficult/controversial issues too.”

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