Yorkshire’s textile trade all set for revival

Yorkshire’s textile industry is on a revival path through a textiles growth programme, an initiative with a private and public sector partnership which was established by former Cabinet minister Sir Vince Cable when he was business secretary. The project, launched five years ago to explore increasing UK fashion and textiles, is also helping create jobs.

Altogether, 113 textiles manufacturing businesses across West Yorkshire have invested £44.5 million in the Textiles Growth Programme over the last four years, which has unlocked more than £10 million in grants through the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.

This has helped to create 1,124 jobs and 166 apprenticeships in the industry, a growth programme spokesman said. The programme supports capital projects, skills training and research and development in the textile industry, a report in the Yorkshire Post said. The report quoted Cable as saying, “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.”  

Bill Macbeth, the managing director of the Huddersfield-based Textile Centre of Excellence, which has more than 100 textiles manufacturing businesses in its membership, said: “The Textiles Growth Programme has illustrated the willingness and capacity of companies to invest in the sector. It’s also been instrumental in increasing the Government’s awareness of the strength of the sector and its potential for growth.”Macbeth said the sector must develop its plans for skills development, export and innovation. “This is particularly important as we prepare for Brexit negotiations,’’ he added, according to the report.

Lorna Fitzsimons, the founder and director of the Textiles Growth Programme, said the programme had been launched five years ago, to recognise the opportunity for increasing UK fashion and textiles manufacturing. She added: “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.”

Textiles production in the UK was worth £9.1 billion in 2016, according to research from the Textiles Growth Programme. The programme focused on local enterprise partnership areas, which had previously had a history of textile manufacturing, including West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Exports of UK fashion and textiles have increased by 28 per cent since 2012, with 26 per cent of these exports heading to customers outside the European Union, the research found.

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