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Lord Alliance calls for manufacturing to return to UK

Dec '11
A regular on the Institute's calendar, the annual Textile Institute Parliamentary Lunch has risen to be one of the highlights of the year. Hosted by Lord Simon Haskel and held in the Cholmondeley Room at the House of Lords, London, UK, the event is an opportunity to experience a little piece of the pomp and ceremony associated with one of the UK's greatest institutions, its government.

Filled to capacity, over 120 people from around the world gathered to listen to the latest highlights of British government, Lord Haskel entertained by opening the event and talking about some of the current trials of the House of Lords, he commented “Well the political scene brings to mind the old Chinese curse – may you live in interesting times” and went on to talk about the troubled Eurozone and how the UK fits into the scenario including managing its own financial position.

The after lunch speaker, Lord David Alliance talked about his history in the textile industry including his involvement with Coats Viyella which became one of the largest textile companies in Europe, employing over 70,000 people and manufacturing in over 60 countries, all from a very small start with one man as a wholesaler in the mid „50s in Manchester, UK.

Lord Alliance described some of the changes to the textile industry over the last 60 years and then moved on to predict the future.

“The developing countries have been exporting cheap labour to us and a number of things are happening which changes the game plan.

A) The rate of growth of wages in the developing countries is much higher than here in the UK.
B) Technology has taken out the labour content to the point that today in certain areas of the industry the productivity per operative is 20 times what it used to be in the „60s.

And there are other factors which come into play. For example the likes of large UK retailers used to tell the consumer what they should be buying. Today it is the other way around. The consumer tells the retailer what they should be selling.

The consumer has so many options today especially through the internet. If the retailer doesn't have it the consumer knows where to get it. Satisfying the changing wishes of the consumer is not easy especially if you are importing from thousands of miles away.”

Lord Alliance now non-executive chairman of N Brown, leading internet and home shopping company, went on to talk about the possibilities of bringing manufacturing back to the UK and said that his company would be in support of this move and would like to be able to source the majority of product from the UK.

A thank you was given to Lord Haskel and Lord Alliance by The Textile Institute World President, Andreas Weber. And finally a CText FTI was presented to Yuen-Hoi (David) Lee, Industrial Development Officer at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) by Andreas.

The Textile Institute

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