• Just Style

Made in Britain demand growing as exports strengthen

Britain's manufacturers are continuing to see a demand for 'Made in Britain' goods, new figures show, with growth recorded across all sectors in the UK.

Manufacturers are seeing their strongest performance for over 20 years, according to the latest figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), with firms reporting that both their total and export order books had strengthened to multi-decade highs in June.

"Britain's manufacturers are continuing to see demand for 'Made in Britain' goods rise with the temperature," says Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist. "Total and export order books are at highs not seen for decades, and output growth remains robust."

According to the CBI, order books in June climbed to the highest level since 1988, while exports improved to a 22-year high, hitting similar peaks to those seen in 2011 and 2013.

While there were no figures specified for the clothing and footwear industry, the growth in order books was underpinned by a broad-based improvement in 13 of the 17 sub-sectors, signalling a general trend in demand for British made goods.

This growth could be put down to the weaker pound, which has been trading around 15% lower compared to the dollar and 12% lower compared to the euro than it was before the referendum, making British goods cheaper for those buying abroad. Economists say the figures have raised hopes a manufacturing boom might offset the slowdown in consumer spending and steady the economy.

Pricing pressures, however, remain strong, with manufacturers continuing to expect a sharp rise in average selling prices, in line with the level seen last month. According to CBI, prices are forecast to rise 23%, in line with the level seen in May, but having eased from their peak in February, when they reached 32%.

"With cost pressures remaining elevated it's no surprise to see that manufacturers continue to have high expectations for the prices they plan to charge," Newton-Smith adds.

"To build the right future for Britain's economy, manufacturers and workers, the Government must put the economy first as it negotiates the country's departure from the EU. This approach will deliver a deal that supports growth and raises living standards across the UK."

The UK's clothing and textile manufacturing industry, in particular, could benefit further with Britain's exit from the European Union.

Speaking to just-style last year in the wake of the referendum result, Alison Lewy, director of Fashion Angel, which offers mentoring, business support and access to funding for the fashion industry, said a return to UK manufacturing would be a "natural kind of outcome".

It is a view shared by a number of industry brands, with UK hosiery specialist Pamela Mann, which counts Asos, New Look and House of Fraser among its buyers, believing Brexit may be good for the industry in the long-term.

"In the short term it is a challenge, but long term I think it will be good for us," managing director Rob Morris said. "It will settle down, the currency rates will settle down and ultimately people will look to manufacture closer to home."

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