Coronavirus

BFC calls on government support of fashion industry

The British Fashion Council (BFC) has called on the government to provide more support for Britain’s fashion industry in the wake of Covid. 

It comes as the group today released new data from Oxford Economics that “reinforces the stark reality of the impact of the global pandemic on the British fashion industry”. 

According to the council, an upcoming recession could “hit the fashion industry twice as hard” compared to the UK overall, eliminating the growth achieved by the industry in the decade. 

The latest Oxford Economics data found that in an industry that employs around 890,000 people, 240,000 direct job losses are predicted following the pandemic. 

Including indirect jobs through both the supply chain and consumer spending, the unemployment figure is predicted to rise to 350,000, totalling 1% of all UK jobs. 

According to the BFC, the level of contribution to GDP is forecasted to drop from £35bn to £26.2bn, while revenues are predicted to drop from £118bn in 2019 to £88bn in 2020.

In a statement, the BFC said: “The data shows that alongside the economic impact, an entire generation of creative talent is threatened to disappear, putting in danger the UK’s position as the creative crucible of global fashion.

“Whilst the BFC welcomes the support measures implemented by the Government throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, research found that many fashion businesses have not been able to access the schemes.” 

It added: “Therefore, in order to ensure future employment, whilst re-setting the industry with a focus on clean growth and positive change on the planet and its people, the BFC is asking Government to consider the future of the sector through a series of seven measures.”

The first of these measures is to ask for government support to enable lease re-negotiations in cases where landlords “aren’t acting responsibly”, as well as introduce grants or long-term interest free loans to offset the costs of leases.

The group has also called for grants or interest free loans for SMEs that are not eligible for proposed government measures, but were viable pre Covid-19.

In addition, the group is calling for more innovation, research and development funding for clean growth, “responsible” retailing, an exploration of financial mechanisms that can de-risk businesses for the future, such as supply chain finance, and a moratorium on payments of duty and tariffs to kickstart international supply chains and further support liquidity and cash flow in the industry.

Following Downing Street’s commitment to produce two billion pieces of British-made PPE, the BFC is finally calling on the government to work with the industry to co-invest in British manufacturing, supporting PPE manufacturing as well as the development of material innovation to “create the most resilient, environmentally friendly PPE for the future”.

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