"This is the most extensive study on supply and demand for UK fashion and textiles manufacturing in decades. There is still more to do but this is a success story no one saw coming."
Lorna Fitzsimons, Textiles Growth Programme
In total 116 textiles manufacturing business across Greater Manchester (77) and Lancashire (39) invested more than £38 million in the Textiles Growth Programme over 4 years which unlocked more than £8.5 million in grants through the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.
This has helped create nearly 1,340 new jobs, safeguard more than 300 jobs and created more than 100 apprenticeships.
The programme focussed on five LEP areas, which had previously had a history of textiles manufacturing, and where there were no growth opportunities. These include Greater Manchester, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Nottingham and Derbyshire.
Through renewed confidence, the industry now has the potential to add 10,000 new jobs and £500 million more to the UK’s economy each year by 2020. It is the most significant initiative ever to be undertaken in the UK to support the UK textiles industry.
A total Regional Growth Fund of £27m, awarded to the programme in 2012 has leveraged a further £123m nationally from the private sector through the support of 340 British manufacturers. The UK has now got a textiles workforce of 127,000 people (ONS Labour Force Survey) across all skill levels from packing and warehouse staff through to board directors.
Andy Ogden from English Fine Cottons, based in Dukinfield said: “The Textile Growth Programme has bought confidence back to the industry. The textile industry needs to support itself and bring quality back to the market. We’ve invested £6 million in bringing cotton spinning back to support weavers, knitters and dyers. We want to ensure high quality cottons produced here in Manchester are back on the high street, giving British consumers the products they deserve.”
David Hardman, Chairman of Accrington-based textiles firm Lantex, which employs 30 people has invested £100,000 in modernising his factory, including new machines and a new staff canteen. A third of the funding came from the Regional Growth Fund. He said: “We have also recently helped set up Textile Academy in Burnley to teach sewing and help fill a skills gap with £45,000 of funding from the Fund. Sewing is a skill for life. It’s a flexible career as people can even work from home if they have a family. This area’s prosperity was founded on the textile industry. It’s our heritage and in our blood. Despite overseas competition we continue to manufacture for both the domestic and international markets. We’re proud of this and the Textile Academy will ensure we continue to thrive by providing a trained workforce for the future.”
Lorna Fitzsimons, Founder and Director of the Textiles Growth Programme, based in Manchester said: “Five years ago, Lord Alliance challenged Sir Vince Cable, the then Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, to recognise the opportunity for increasing UK fashion and textiles manufacturing. This started us on a journey which led to the most extensive study on supply and demand for UK fashion and textiles manufacturing in decades. There is still more to do but this is a success story no one saw coming.”
Sir Vince Cable, former secretary of State for Business, innovation and Skills who commissioned the work added: "The textile industry was widely thought to be extinct in the UK, but some outstanding entrepreneurs, using new technology plus modest Government help under coalition industrial strategy, have turned things around. Reshoring is real and growing."