Yorkshire's textile trade enjoys spirited revival

Sir Vince Cable Photo: James HardistySir Vince Cable Photo: James Hardisty
Sir Vince Cable Photo: James Hardisty
YORKSHIRE's textile industry is staging a revival with help from a project that was set up by the former Cabinet minister Sir Vince Cable.

The Textiles Growth Programme, a private and public sector partnership which was established by Sir Vince when he was Business Secretary, is helping to create jobs through a grant-funded scheme.

It supports capital projects, skills training and research and development in the textile industry.

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Altogether, 113 textiles manufacturing businesses across West Yorkshire have invested £44.5m in the Textiles Growth Programme over the last four years, which has unlocked more than £10m in grants through the 
Government’s Regional Growth Fund.

This has helped to create 1,124 jobs and 166 apprenticeships in the industry, a growth programme spokesman said.

Bill Macbeth, the managing director of the Huddersfield-based Textile Centre of Excellence, which has more than 100 textiles manufacturing businesses in its membership, said: “The Textiles Growth Programme has illustrated the willingness and capacity of companies to invest in the sector.

“It’s also been instrumental in increasing the Government’s awareness of the strength of the sector and its potential for growth.”

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Mr Macbeth said the sector must move forward to develop its plans for skills development, export and innovation.

“This is particularly important as we prepare for Brexit negotiations,’’ he added.

Sir Vince Cable said: “The textile industry was widely thought to be extinct in the UK, but some outstanding entrepreneurs, using new technology plus modest Government help under coalition industrial strategy, have turned things around. Reshoring is real and growing.”

Lorna Fitzsimons, the founder and director of the Textiles Growth Programme, said the programme had been launched five years ago, to recognise the opportunity for increasing UK fashion and textiles manufacturing.

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She added: “This started us on a journey which led to the most extensive study on supply and demand for UK fashion and textiles manufacturing in decades.

“There is still more to do but this is a success story no one saw coming.”

Textiles production in the UK was worth £9.1bn in 2016, according to research from the Textiles Growth Programme.

The programme focused on LEP (local enterprise partnership) areas, which had previously had a history of textile manufacturing, including West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and D

Exports of UK fashion and textiles have increased by 28 per cent since 2012, with 26 per cent of these exports heading to customers outside the European Union, the growth programme’s research found.