Textile jobs to boost Yorkshire

The UK textile industry is worth �9bn to the economy and West Yorkshire is said to be the 'densest area of textile fabric and weaving in the UK' . Picture: bruce rollinson
The UK textile industry is worth �9bn to the economy and West Yorkshire is said to be the 'densest area of textile fabric and weaving in the UK' . Picture: bruce rollinson
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TEXTILE manufacturing in West Yorkshire is set to boom over the next five years with the creation of thousands of new jobs in the area, according to a new report out today.

TEXTILE manufacturing in West Yorkshire is set to boom over the next five years with the creation of thousands of new jobs in the area, according to a new report out today.

The report claims that 20,000 new jobs could be created in UK textile manufacturing by 2020 as more companies source their fabrics from the UK.

Of these a large portion will be created in West Yorkshire, which the report’s authors identified as the “densest area of textile fabric and weaving in the UK”.

The Alliance Report: Repatriation of UK Textiles Manufacture, which is being launched at the House of Commons, is the biggest study in 20 years on supply and demand in UK textile manufacturing.

The report concludes that UK textile manufacturing is leading the world in many fields from royal wedding dresses to Formula 1 cars, planes and space crafts.

Lorna Fitzsimons, director of the report’s publishers The Alliance Project, said a great example is Pudsey-based AW Hainsworth and Sons, one of Yorkshire’s longest-established textile businesses.

She said that Hainsworth has consistently stayed at the front of innovation, from producing the red coats worn at Waterloo to kitting out NASA space craft.

The Alliance Project is a not-for-profit organisation aimed at repatriating textiles manufacturing to the UK.

Ms Fitzsimons said changes in fashion are playing a major part in the decision to source fabric from the UK.

“The biggest driving force is consumer behaviour,” she said.

“Whether you’re an e-tailer or a retailer you’ve got to be on trend. They have to find supply immediately and can’t have long lead times. There are now a lot more smaller orders from closer to home.”

Another driver is the trend to change furniture and home furnishings far more frequently than a generation ago.

The report also noted an increased demand for UK made homewares while increasing costs from competing countries are making UK sourcing more attractive.

According to the report, the UK textile industry is worth £9bn to the economy and is experiencing year-on-year export and domestic growth.

Government figures show that 5,000 new jobs were created in textile manufacturing in the UK last year.

The report said that the UK still has significant skills in traditional sectors such as yarn-spinning, knitting and weaving alongside growth in technical textiles, materials and composites.

The fact that traditional areas of textile manufacturing are to be found in areas of high unemployment has also boosted Government support.

The Alliance Project has gained support from a number of retailers keen to repatriate textile manufacturing to the UK.

It said that of particular note is the success of the National N Brown Textiles Growth Programme, the first ever textile grant growth programme in British history.

The programme is led by retailers N Brown, Marks & Spencer and ASOS and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

The programme will announce today that in its first year of operation 1,600 jobs were created in England, including 335 jobs in West Yorkshire.

To date the programme has invested £9m in grants to 94 companies, including 36 West Yorkshire firms such as AW Hainsworth, Abraham Moon & Sons, Camira Fabrics, H&C Whitehead, Spectrum Yarns, Wooltex UK and Z Hinchcliffe and Sons.

This has leveraged an additional £30m of private sector investment.

Ms Fitzsimons said the next fund, which could be worth £19.5m, will be announced on Thursday.

The investment is concentrated on three regions: West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Lancashire. At the moment West Yorkshire employs 8,500 textile workers.

John Dixon, executive director general merchandise at Marks & Spencer, said: “The report shows what a positive effect a resurgent UK textile industry has on job creation, skills and innovation on our own doorstep. That’s why we’re backing the Alliance report and the Textile Growth Fund and why we continue to invest in the industry through products like our Best of British range.”