M&S switch to foreign suppliers threatens 16,000 UK textile jobs

Fran Abrams,Westminster Correspondent
Tuesday 02 November 1999 00:00
Comments

Marks & Spencer plans to cut the proportion of its clothes made in the UK to less than one-third. Unions claimed the move could mean the loss of 16,000 jobs to countries such as Morocco and Indonesia, where wages and other costs are low.

Marks & Spencer plans to cut the proportion of its clothes made in the UK to less than one-third. Unions claimed the move could mean the loss of 16,000 jobs to countries such as Morocco and Indonesia, where wages and other costs are low.

Executives from the troubled high street store will face protests from British clothing workers today as they unveil their interim results in London.

Yesterday's announcement follows M&S's decision last month to cut its contract with William Baird, which employs more than 4,000 people in the UK. The GMB general union said real job losses could be as high as 8,000 because related industries would also be affected. It said a further 8,000 jobs could be lost if M&S cut its UK production to 30 per cent.

Des Farrell, the union's Clothing and Textile National Secretary, said sacrificing UK jobs was the wrong way to deal with falling profits. "Once M&S were a by-word for British quality. But it seems they are now prepared to dispense with the loyalty of both their staff and their customers in a desperate bid to drive down costs," he said. According to the GMB, 90 per cent of M&S clothes were made in the UK 20 years ago. By 1997 that had dropped to 70 per cent and the since then to 55 per cent. By next year the proportion would drop to 44 per cent and would continue its downward trend.

A spokeswoman for Marks & Spencer said the store would still make more clothes in the UK than any other firm. "In order to stay in the high street we have to be competitive. To do that, we have to source more overseas, just as our rivals do. We haven't made any secret out of that," she said.

Last December the store's chief executive, Peter Salsbury, told the GMB it was wrong to suggest it was encouraging its suppliers to go offshore for cheaper goods. "Marks & Spencer is more supportive of UK production than any other clothing retailer, and will continue to be so," he wrote.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in