The UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) has broadly welcomed the government’s “Bounceback plan for the UK’s Consumer and Retail Industry” but said that substantially more support is urgently needed for exporters, manufacturers and brick and mortar retailers to save UK jobs. Read the details of the Bounceback plan here.
The key elements of the Bounceback are: the launch of a Consumer and Retail Export Academy, support for companies with their ecommerce strategy, showcasing Brand Britain at a number of key international events including the Tokyo Olympics and the World Expo in Dubai. UKFT has always been supportive of these kinds of national promotions, but this activity is not new.
UKFT welcomes the commitment to ensure that UK government supports exporters in the UK’s key Free Trade Agreement markets in 2021 (initially the USA, Japan, Canada, South Korea followed by Australia and New Zealand further down the line). This was one of UKFT’s own Fashion & Textile Covid-19 Recovery Plan requests.
Disappointingly, the Bounceback plan makes no mention of the £6m Tradeshow Access Programme which UKFT has asked the government to adapt to Covid-19 to enable UK companies to use for virtual tradeshows and showrooms, or other flexibilities to support companies in these difficult times.
While UKFT welcomes the government’s commitment to encourage the digital economy, UKFT points out that this is already happening by itself and that, instead, there is an urgent need to encourage national customers and international tourists back to UK brick and mortar and online retail stores, and encourage public life in our cities and towns. This can only be done once the UK has a proper Tracking and Tracing regime to combat Covid-19. The recent announcement removing VAT free shopping will do nothing to encourage overseas consumers to return to the UK.
UKFT is urging the government to give the fashion and textile sector the same generous and proactive support is has given to the hospitality sector. UKFT believes that our industry is equally deserving of such support if not more so because of the specificity of the jobs and the time it takes to train skilled workers in this sector.
Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT said: “Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, UKFT has worked with the government on all areas, from securing flexibility in the furlough scheme to sourcing vital PPE equipment. Since April, we have been asking the government to match the support we see from our international competitors to respond to the challenges of Covid-19.”
Mansell continues: “We are particular concerned that UK exporters are not currently getting the speed and level of support being offered by other governments. This puts our companies at a comparative disadvantage. We urge the UK government to offer new and substantial support to British exporters and manufacturers to protect and build jobs here in the UK”.