Yorkshire Textiles were pleased to be a partner at the Manufactured Yorkshire 2016 event. A diverse array of manufacturers from across the region filled the Centenary Pavilion at Elland Road in Leeds for the event on 11th May 2016.
The morning started well with a keynote speech, not surprisingly fully booked, from Sir Vince Cable along with Bill MacBeth OBE (Managing Director of Textile Centre of Excellence in Huddersfield), Dr Hamid Mughal (Director of Manufacturing Rolls Royce PLC), Sarah Hodgetts (Deputy Director Department of Business Innovation), Kevin Butterworth (Marketing Director of Seabrook Crisps) and Andy Tuscher (Regional Director EEF).
Some excellent points were made by the panel, including Sir Vince Cable explaining ‘the importance of the growing quiet revival and re-shoring of the UK textile industry’. Technological innovation plays a key part in this – and across every sector – with the crucial importance of finding ways to secure investment to follow Knowledge Exchange from the universities into business and manufacturing. The UK need to concentrate further on translating innovation into investment into production.
Bill MacBeth OBE, of the Textile Centre of Excellence, also agreed that the fashion and textile industry is meeting the projected growth figures, which are predicted to provide 20,000 new jobs by 2020. One Leeds-based textile manufacturer produces 8 million metres a year. However it was highlighted that there is a shortage of new blood and skills entering the industry. Manufacturers need to “get into the schools” and make the industry known and encourage interest in higher education through to post doctorate level. With statistics showing that 50% of the textiles work force is aged over 45 years old there needs to be a proactive approach to recruiting.
Brand association and image of the industry is also essential. We fully appreciated the point made by Bill that if you ask young people whether they want to work for Burberry the answer is ‘Yes’; if you ask whether they want to work in the textile industry then the response is probably ‘No’. Brand association and product awareness are vital elements in attracting people to a wide-ranging area of manufacturing that is showing growth in the UK.
The changes in consumer demand make this a ‘quicker’ industry where the UK is well placed to react to the demand for smaller and more speedily available product, said Bill. Technical textiles are the fastest growing area, whether this is waterproofing or fire retardant fabrics. There is also a growing demand worldwide for sustainably produced products.
After the presentation we met up with Adam Hainsworth of AW Hainsworth, which was established over 230 years ago and is a world leader in a wide range of high quality textiles. We have worked alongside Hainsworth on several projects that have showcased aspects of the textile industry to give an understanding of the unique and high quality products produced on our doorstep here in the Leeds City Region. Of course we had plenty to talk about on the morning’s subjects and met up with other colleagues involved in specialist textile industries.