Strong year for UK textile manufacturing as production up 25%

50% of UK textile manufacturers saw their revenue increase during 2017 despite the current economic backdrop and uncertainty surrounding the availability of skilled workers after Brexit.

A survey of 100 manufacturers from across the fashion and textile sector, carried out by Make it British, revealed that the UK textile manufacturing sector continued to thrive in 2017, with one manufacturer going as far to say: “This year has been an exceptional year."

58% of the companies surveyed said they received more enquiries than a year ago, as more companies are looking to source locally, and production has increased on average by 25%.

Kate Hills, founder and CEO of Make it British, said: “This survey reveals that 2017 has been another great year for the sector. There is increased interest from overseas and more companies are looking to source locally. As a result, more factories are opening or working longer hours and taking on apprentices to keep up with demand.”

Textile manufacturers benefitted from the fall in the pound, as it made UK sourcing more attractive to international buyers. 30% of the companies said they exported more last year than they did in 2016, but there is still room for growth as a third of those surveyed are not exporting yet.

The sector’s ageing workforce emerged as a top concern among UK textile manufacturers, with nearly 50% of companies worried about the age of their staff. Over two thirds have a workforce with an average of over 40, and while many factories are taking on young people through apprenticeships, the integration is not quick enough.

All in all, UK textile manufacturers remain relatively optimistic about the future, with respondents scoring 3.2 on a scale 1 to 5.

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