How Brexit affects the Industry

Tuesday 1st March 2016

Brexit is likely to have a complex effect on the UK’s clothing industry; already we are seeing potential signs of things to come with the recent news about Next and their recent economic outlook. Some of the changes that result from the UK leaving the European Union will be positive, others will be negative. If the predictions of industry analysts are to be believed, then the latter will outweigh the former.

The most noticeable effect of the decision to leave the European Union so far has been the depreciation of the pound against other currencies. This has effectively made British clothing cheaper in comparison to foreign alternatives. As a result, many British clothing brands are reporting increases in sales abroad.

This positive effect is undermined by the fact that most British manufacturers use imported materials to make their products. The drop in the value of the pound means that it costs more to import fabric to make clothing in the UK.

The reasons for the fall in the value of the pound offer further reasons for concern about the future health of the clothing industry. The reason why investors are choosing to sell sterling, which results in the currency losing value, is that they believe the UK economy will perform poorly as it transitions to life outside of the EU. For British clothing manufacturers who mainly focus on the domestic market, this will lead to a drop off in sales from customers who choose not to risk big spending decisions due to economic uncertainty.

A further possible impact on the UK clothing and uniform industry will come if the government chooses to limit immigration into the country from the continent. Many clothing manufacturers rely on skilled European workers to design and produce their garments. Requiring these people to apply for visas will add to recruitment costs and make the process of acquiring necessary skills more difficult and time-consuming.

Even worse, the EU has so far expressed that it intends to defend free movement of labour as a core principle for it’s member states. As a result, if the if the UK refuses to accept free movement then it will be likely to face tariffs on UK produced goods that are exported to continental Europe. These will result in British clothes becoming less competitive in European markets. Tariffs would also be likely to be applied to European materials that are imported to the UK, which would add to the production costs of UK clothing manufacturers.

There are good reasons why 90% of the 500 clothes designers who were polled by the British Fashion Council prior to the referendum said that they planned to vote Remain.

So what does this mean for our clients?

At Uniforms by Creative, we work closely with our suppliers to ensure we are aware of the impact of Brexit from a manufacturing stance; and that we are able to absorb any cost implications resulting from the changing economy. Since Brexit occurred, we haven’t yet had to increase any of our prices due to the robust nature of our supply chain and not being dependent on any one product source. We know that this may change but by operating a business model unique to our industry, we are confident that we will be able to lessen the effect Brexit may have on our pricing.

We know that in times of uncertainty, its vital to provide open and hones communication with our clients to assure them of any changes to our pricing model and how we operate. Our Account Team are always available to discuss any concerns our clients might have and our fully briefed on the current situation. We take changes in the economy seriously and work hard to ensure our clients feel safe and valued.

Have you already been impacted by the effects of Brexit? Give us a call today to find out more about our supply chain and how we can bring stability an reassurance to your current situation.

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