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Investment by Burberry to give Leeds textile a new lease of life

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2015-11-09 10:00:00 – Leeds

Burberry Group plc is a British luxury fashion house, distributing outerwear, fashion accessories along with other manufacturers by tapping into rolling demand for quality British products in Asia and South America, have given the textile industry a new lease of life.

The FTSE 100 company will switch the making of its famous trenchcoat, which sells for more than £500, from two ageing plants to create about 200 new jobs in the city centre from 2019.

Burberry’s plan to invest £50m in a new factory in Leeds has underlined the recovery of what remains of the UK’s once-mighty textile trade. The new plant in the South Bank area of Leeds will combine weaving and stitching under one roof to boost productivity. It will increase the maximum output from current levels of 240,000 trenchcoats.

Christopher Bailey, the Yorkshireman who is Burberry’s chief creative and chief executive officer, said that the company’s existing factories in Castleford and Keighley were bursting at the seams after doubling capacity in five years. These will now close and production will be moved to the new facility.

He is absolutely committed to the keeping manufacturing in Yorkshire. He recognises that the Made in England label is fundamental to the appeal of their iconic products, said a Burberry spokesman.

Burberry have an incredibly skilled workforce in Yorkshire which they are planning to take them to their new site.

Subsequent development could involve new products and restoring the Grade I listed Temple Works building in Leeds. The abandoned flax mill epitomises the Yorkshire city’s 19th century heyday and is modelled on the temple of Horus at Edfu in Egypt.

Judith Blake, leader of Leeds city council said that the Burberry move would help revive the South Bank area. Leeds city region has 6,800 people working in the industry, one-seventh of all textile workers in England.

Companies expanding include Hainsworth, which provides the cloth for the red Guards uniforms, and makes woollen coffins. Abraham Moon in Guiseley recently expanded its factory while Laxtons, a historic yarn spinner, returned to manufacturing.

Camira Fabrics, based in Mirfield, has also invested heavily and has opened the UK’s first new dye house for more than 20 years. It provides fabric for the office furniture, rail and office markets. Contracts include London Underground and the chairs used on BBC Question Time.

Ian Burn, marketing director, said that more than half its £68m turnover comes from abroad. The firm has added almost 100 staff in the past two years and now employs 700. They cannot compete on price and hence they have to be innovative and offer excellent service.

Countries like India and China are now markets for them but having a British-made product helps enormously.

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