British Manufacturing

 

British Manufacturing

 

Manufacturing in the UK has been an important part of our history and heritage at Helen Moore since the beginning.

Established in 1982 in the heart of Devon, we now employ over 50 people and are members of the Living Wage Foundation.  All the faux fur collections are designed and made in our Helen Moore factory in the village where Helen raised her family.

Helen’s commitment to keeping manufacturing in the UK certainly bucked the trend that saw an 85% decline in fashion manufacturing between the end of the last century and 1970 as many companies moved their production to the far east.

The UK is slowly restoring its manufacturing base and is currently the 11th largest manufacturing nation in the world. It sits behind Germany, Italy and France but it still employs 2.6 million people and contributes 10% of GVA and accounts for 44% of total exports, according to the EEF

The textile industry specifically now supports more than 340,000 direct jobs across over 79,000 companies and annually adds £11.5bn+ to the UK economy

The advantages of manufacturing in the UK have, for us at Helen Moore, always been two-fold; it is beneficial to the products in terms of quality and flexibility and it is also about supporting local people and the economy of the area.

Being able to own the entire manufacturing process means that we can pay great attention to every stage of production. Every piece of faux fur is cut by hand, then sewn by our expert machinists and then each seam is brushed by the finishing team so that the joins are almost invisible. Every item is checked over before it leaves the factory meaning that issues and imperfections can be quickly dealt with.

More companies are now recognising that long distance supply chains are no longer a viable option for manufacturers wanting to capitalise fast emerging fashion trends or more recently the immediate hype created by emerging fashion trends propagated by social media.  We have found it invaluable to be able to increase production of a piece worn at LFW or on the red carpet which has triggered a huge increase in demand.

Our location is incredibly important as we have been based in our village in Devon throughout the company’s history and are now the lead employer in the local area, employing over fifty people. In 2015 we cemented our commitment to the village and to UK manufacturing by buying our factory and this has also given increased security to our employees. We have an incredibly loyal and committed team, some of whom have been with us for over twenty years and at one point had three generations of the same family. We have always paid the Living Wage and following the recent rise, we are now accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.

Paying a wage that is enough to live on is good for business, good for the individual and good for society

Good for business as we can be sure that all our employees can earn a wage which is enough to live on. That basic fairness is at the heart of what this foundation is trying to achieve is also at the heart of the Helen Moore business and why we have chosen to go further than the government minimum.

Good for individuals as the difference between the government minimum and the real Living Wage can be for full time workers outside of London, £45 a week more than those on the government minimum. An independent study recently found that 75% of employees reported increases in job quality as a result of receiving the Living Wage. 50% of employees felt that the Living Wage had made them more willing to implement changes in their working practices; enabled them to require fewer concessions to effect change; and made them more likely to adopt changes more quickly.

Good for society as low pay can make it difficult for employees to find time for community and family life. 

As well as manufacturing ourselves, we also always look to source quality British parts and embellishments for all our products. For example, the people who design and set up our show stands are in Barnstable, the hollow fibre cushion inners come from Collumpton, the threads for all the sewing are from the west country. All our printing of brochures, swing tags, look books is done with a local Devon firm as well as our product packaging. We also source our external resources for security, heath & safety and HR with local Devon firms.

It was therefore very important to us that the SILK collection followed this trend. The beautiful artwork by Stanley Moore has be transposed onto the very best silk by a fabulous company in the UK and the edges are individually hand rolled by a very talented lady. A time consuming and incredibly delicate process, we are very proud to be keeping this to the very best the UK have to offer.

In February 2017 the UKFT released encouraging industry figures showing UK exports of apparel and textiles were worth £9.1bn in 2016, rising from 8.5bn in 2015. 2016's figures are up 28% in the five years since 2012. Apparel exports alone have risen 41% to £6.2bn in this five year period, up £1.8bn. The continued rise in exports is cited as being due to a number of effects including an increased interest in heritage UK manufacturing, the creativity of British fashion designers as well as the importance of the UK as a key apparel trading hub.

We look forward to continuing to add to these figures by growing our business in the UK as well as looking to support the global community by sourcing ethical products from around the world.

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