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Focus Consultants research economic benefit of Leicester Textiles Hub

Economic development experts at Focus Consultants have been researching the benefits of creating a textiles hub and training centre in Leicester.

The company has been working with Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) and Leicester City Council with support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to explore the creation of a hub and training centre in the city to help Leicester boost its textiles industry.

The textiles manufacturing sector in the Leicester and Leicestershire LEP area has been identified as a priority growth sector, due to it contributing over £0.5 billion to the LLEP economy, as well as it being the second largest textiles employment area in the UK.  Within Leicester and Leicestershire, the sector employs 9,480 people in 1,480 firms.

With the demand for ‘fast fashion’ ever increasing in the UK’s retail sector, an advantage of producing apparel in the UK is that retailers can expect the production of their goods to have a faster turnaround than if they were using overseas suppliers. This offers significant opportunities to bring more textiles manufacturing back to the UK, and with its diverse history in the textiles industry, Leicester plans to be at the heart of this.

The Funding, Research and Economic Development team at Focus, which has an office at Meridian Business Park, Leicester, has been appointed by the LLEP to investigate the need for a new textiles hub and the benefits it could bring to the city’s economy. Led by Focus partners, Heather Frecklington and Karl Marriott, their role includes working with manufacturers and suppliers of technical machinery to evaluate costs, in addition to consultation with leading high street retailers and e-tailers, such as New Look and Asos, to understand the demand for fast fashion, the opportunity for increased UK production and how Leicester can be best placed to benefit from this growth.

Heather Frecklington, the partner responsible for Focus’ FRED Team, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed to undertake this exciting study. Global factors are influencing reshoring of manufacturing back to the UK and the aim of the proposed hub is to understand how to meet the needs of both retailers and manufacturers in order to support and grow the fashion and textiles sector in Leicester.

“We have worked on economic impact assessments for the Leicester area previously, including a report undertaken by our team which found that the discovery of King Richard lll brought in more than £59 million to Leicester’s economy, from the time of the discovery to the reinternment, and we are pleased to be continuing our links with the city and its development.”

The study has explored the need for a sector specific hub and training centre to provide relevant services to the local small and medium enterprise community, as well as accommodate the needs of large retailers and online brands. It has included in-depth consultation with manufacturers and retailers in the sector, as well as industry experts, stakeholders and potential partners to gauge their opinion on the need, and potential shape of a Leicester Hub, and the demand for services within it.

Fashion experts from across Leicester will be meeting on Tuesday 16th May to discuss how they could join together to grow the textile sector in the Leicestershire area. The event is taking place from 10.30am to 12:30pm at De Montfort University and is open to any fashion and textile industry professionals who are interested in getting involved. Registration is essential. Click here to reserve your place http://bit.ly/fashion16May

Sue Tilley, economic strategy manager for the Leicester & Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) said: “There is a need for a different kind of Leicester textiles industry and the Hub would have an important part to play in changing this perception. It would also work to help manufacturers to recognise the need to adopt a different approach to trading and costing.

“We know that Leicester is one of only five UK centres for mass, fast fashion textile production and there is profound support for Leicester from many of Britain’s leading fashion retailers and e-tailers. So this is a fantastic opportunity for the local industry to pull together to maximise positive commercial developments such as re-shoring of UK based production to improve the fashion and textile sector in Leicester.”

The FRED team at Nottingham-based Focus, which also has branches in London, Leicester, Boston and Aubourn in Lincolnshire, specialises in securing funding for projects, economic impact assessments, regeneration strategies, research and feasibility strategies.

Since 1994 Focus has also secured for clients more than £953 million of grants for projects and businesses across the UK and delivered more than £1.3 billion worth of projects and programmes – making it one of the most successful businesses of its kind in the country.

It also offers a range of services to the property and construction industry, including building surveying, quantity surveying, project management, and sustainable development support.

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