If you are a British-made brand or UK manufacturer and you’re not exporting then you’re missing out, so says Kate Hills, founder of Make it British, the campaign to encourage more people to buy British and make in the UK.
Recent figures show that UK exports of British-made products are at their highest for seven years and the opportunities of exporting will be a key feature at this year’s Make it British Live! event on 23 and 24 May at the Truman Brewery, London. The symposium, to be chaired by industry commentator Eric Musgrave, will include a panel discussion focused on how to export a British-made brand, with an inspirational line-up of panellists, including:
- Christian Robinson, Owner at Tiffany Rose: the fabulous British maternity wear brand that has just won the Queen’s Award for International Trade for the second time in five years. From humble beginnings – a kitchen table in Tiffany’s South London apartment and access to just £600 on a credit card – the business now turns over £3.1m and operates from its head office in Surrey, from where orders are shipped to 120 countries and over 100 boutiques.
- Nigel Cabourn: Hailed as a cult British designer, Nigel Cabourn has worked in the industry for over 40 years. He has a long history and close affinity with Japan and the brand has built a loyal following there since the 1980’s. He opened his flagship store there in 2009 and there are now five Nigel Cabourn stores across Japan.
- Ian Maclean, Managing Director at John Smedley: renowned throughout the world as a leader in the production of fine gauge knitwear products, John Smedley was founded in 1784, at the start of the Industrial Revolution. Now 70% of their output is exported to over 35 countries worldwide and during that time the company has worked with some of the world’s leading designers from Margaret Howell to Paul Smith.
Kate Hills explains: “We’ve seen a big increase in overseas visitors to the Make it British website since the Brexit vote in 2016, particularly from the USA and Asia. At last year’s Make it British trade show there were 27 countries represented, with every continent covered and international visitors double that of the previous year. Japanese and Scandinavian buyers were particularly keen on looking for UK manufacturers and British-made products at the show and we’re expecting the same again this year.
“Whilst around a third of UK fashion and textile manufacturers are exporting more than they were in 2016, there is a massive opportunity for growth as another third aren’t yet exporting, according to a survey of nearly 100 manufacturers from across the fashion and textile sector carried out by Make it British at the end of last year.
“UK manufacturers now need to capitalise on this opportunity. There are numerous reasons why a British-made brand should have an export strategy, not least because overseas shoppers associate products made in Britain with quality.”
Make It British Live!, the two-day event on 23 and 24 May, will exclusively showcase over 200 great British manufacturers and producers and will be packed full of useful information on how to export a British-made brand.