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UK wool industry on a comeback trail
Feb '13
The prospects of UK’s beleaguered woolen industry, which was nearly destroyed by alternative man-made fibres in the 1970s and 1980s, is making a comeback as there is increase in demand for wool across Europe and Asia.
Mr. Stuart McCullough, the CEO of The Woolmark Company, told fibre2fashion, “The wool industry is making a glorious comeback and contributing hundreds of millions of pounds to the UK economy as demand for wool is increasing across Europe and Asia,”
“Woolen mills are employing more people than they have in many decades, as every UK mill is witnessing a substantial rise in turnover,” he adds.
According to him, the demise of the industry started when wool was at its height with 130 mills working at capacity, many high street companies began choosing cheaper alternatives from China and Turkey as well as using polyester viscose, an alternative about a tenth of the price of wool at the time.
“Over the next few decades the industry was kept alive by high-end men's fashion retailers including Hackett, Aquascutum, Savile Row, Paul Smith and Vivienne Westwood as they continued to buy and use high grade Merino wool in their products,” he informs.
John Walsh, Director at Abraham Moons mill in Yorkshire says, "Many mills collapsed but the ones who survived adapted to the export market. We made commitments to design by putting large sums of the profits back into the company, into machinery and technique.”
“70 per cent of the wool textiles manufactured in the UK are exported, compared to 50 per cent in the 80s,” he informs.
Figures from 2008 to 2010 show that the value of the UK wool apparel market has risen across the board, including menswear, women’s wear, knitwear, active wear and work wear and is now worth £1.244.72 billion.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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