City backs push to revive Britain's clothing industry

A new report claims UK clothing manufacturing is again commercially viable and calls on the UK's retailers to reduce the amount imported from abroad.

Currently £17bn of apparel is imported into the UK, while just £7bn is exported, but a group of manufacturers supported by three City livery companies, hopes to reverse this.

The costs of producing goods in China is increasing and the report, to be unveiled tomorrow, has found it is becoming more cost efficient to source closer to home.

The report, called Product Cost Comparison and commissioned by Lord Alliance and compiled by University of Manchester, will be revealed at a gathering of 250 top retailers and manufacturers organised by City livery companies The Clothworkers', Dyers' and Weavers' Company.

James Sugden, director of Johnstons of Elgin which supplies designer brands including Chanel, Hermès and Christopher Kane, said: "This is a clarion call to retailers to realise what they have on their doorstep. Retailers have been sourcing overseas but there is now plenty of opportunity at home."

The sector already employs around 100,000 people but Mr Sugden believes much-needed jobs could be created to fill the skills gap.

The event, called A New Dawn — Rebuilding UK textile manufacturing, will include speakers Vince Cable and designer Sir Paul Smith.

Mr Sugden added: "There are a core of UK companies doing world-beating things but there could be many more.

"We're not trying to turn the clock back. We know we cannot mass produce again but there is growth in niche areas and it is these areas that must be invested in."

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