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Study reveals future of sourcing for UK's textile sector

Jun '12
The global textile map is changing and on 31 May 2012, the Worldwide Sourcing Study for the fast fashion industry was unveiled. The Worldwide Sourcing Study, brought to you by Fast Fashion London (23-24 October at the Olympia National Hall), analyses the main sourcing trends in Europe and America and identifies new sourcing alternatives, matching corresponding zones for each type of product. Foremost is the issue of increased raw material prices and the growing cost of manufacture, especially in China. Consequently, large textile buyers’ established habits have been turned upside down, prompting them to seek new options.

During the exclusive presentation to leading trade, fashion and commerce representatives and media, the unique market research provided valuable insights into tomorrow’s emerging manufacturing countries, along with new production zones in global textiles and the global sourcing trends of the future.

Key to the UK market is the importance of sourcing closer to home, which not only tackles the rising cost of materials from far a field, but helps with the country’s carbon footprint, creates job opportunities and ultimately results in faster production and delivery.

The Study shows that the current sourcing trends for the UK are:

- China remains the UK’s number one sourcing country, with Nicaragua, Turkey and Bangladesh developing fast as contenders. China is an efficient source because of its easy access to raw materials and energy supplies, straightforward custom procedures and reliable, timely delivery.

- However, the increased costs associated with China have caused price increases in the apparel retail sector in the UK which, in turn have slowed down sales growth.

- Major UK players in the apparel sector, including leading high-street and supermarket chains, are responding to this, by planning to bring back part of their apparel production to the UK or at least in zones closer to home such as Europe and the Middle East for faster turnaround of high demand products. - Already John Lewis has put 'Made in the UK' labeling on 4000 products including its menswear range.

- Whereas, Tesco has sourced from Asian countries through its Hong Kong office for the last 40 years, now it is increasing supplies from Europe and Egypt. This will reduce lead times for its most popular items of apparel from around 26 weeks to as little as 6 weeks. - Asda is now sourcing some 'fast fashion items', such as socks, women's jerseys and T-shirts from factories in the Midlands. Apart from flexibility, George @ Asda, wants to support UK suppliers when possible. - Marks & Spencer, which has the largest share of womenswear in the UK, uses British fabrics for its products made in China, through the collaboration with Richard James. It, too, wants to support the UK fashion industry and increase the use of 'Made in UK' on its labels.

Looking ahead and to sourcing diversification, there are many countries which provide an alternative to China. The Study explores Eastern Europe and South East Asian countries which are developing important new production capacity at an astonishing rate.

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