01 March 2001 | Cathy Hayward
An initiative to improve supplier relations in the beleaguered textile and clothing industry has received a mixed reaction.
The £1.5 million, government-funded Apparel and Textile Challenge forum, launched in a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) progress report last month, is led by the British Clothing Industry Association, which includes major retailers such as Next and Marks & Spencer, manufacturers and designers.
It will make the UK textile supply chain more competitive, according to Ken Watson, director of the Challenge. "We want the entire supply chain working collaboratively to increase profitability for everyone," he said.
The National Union of Knitwear, Footwear and Apparel Trades welcomed the concept but said there needed to be a genuine willingness to change by manufacturers and retailers for the industry to recover. "The government needs to bang some heads together. Retailers often take an adversarial approach with their suppliers, while manufacturers are too willing to close factories rather than improve supply chains," said a union spokesman.
Alf Hitchmough, general secretary of the Union of Textile Workers agreed. "I don't know how the government plans to improve supplier relationships between manufacturers and retailers when all retailers want are cheaper prices."