John Lewis brings textile manufacturing back to Britain

Posted on 22 Jul 2013

High street giant John Lewis is pushing forward with its efforts to have more products 'Made in UK'.

John Lewis’s ‘Made in UK’ intiative was launched in 2011. Today 10,500 John Lewis products carry the badge with sales of UK sourced products totalling £480m in 2012.

The company today outlined its support for UK manufacturing by setting a two-year 15% growth target for sales of UK made goods in its shops.

Andy Street, John Lewis’s managing director, said: “We think our customers want to buy British if they can. A big area for us is home-based: our fitted kitchens are made in Birmingham, we have beds made in Leeds. We want to help British manufacturers to grow their share as much as we can.”

The retailer increased its number of UK suppliers to 207 from 132 last year.

Herbert Parkinson is a UK manufacturing arm of the department store and supplies textiles to its shops. The John Lewis owned supplier celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.

Lancashire-based, Herbert Parkinson employs over 250 staff to produce over 7,000 metres of fabric a week.

Stuart McDonald, managing director of Herbert Parkinson, said:

“UK manufacturing remains a key focus for John Lewis so it’s apt that we are able to launch this target at a time when we are celebrating 60 years as Partners of John Lewis, and our commitment to UK manufacturing.

“At Herbert Parkinson we strive to set ourselves apart by delivering innovative products to our customers, along with quality, service and design which is why we hope the new  target, as well as the Made in UK identifier, will allow us to generate awareness and further support UK manufacturing .”

John Lewis’s UK sourcing strategy has been applauded by law firm Weightmans LLP.

Roland Hutchins, partner in the corporate team at Weightmans, said: “John Lewis’s move to bring its textile manufacturing back to the UK is a progressive one, and given recent instances such as the tragedy in Bangladesh, certainly chimes with the change in the UK public’s opinions on off shore outsourcing.

“From a legal perspective, bringing manufacturing back to the UK makes for greater certainty in the ability for retailers to monitor and control its supply chain.

“As evidenced with the Bangladeshi factory collapse, complex and global supply chains can leave retailers vulnerable and without meticulous controls, an accident or a lack of transparency as to where materials are sourced and processed can be a dangerous risk.

“Manufacturing within the UK can be more closely monitored with fewer practical and legal restrictions.”