While Made in China tags seem to dominate at many stores, there are still UK clothing designers and manufacturers that are making a strong case that consumers value the quality and service of a Made in Britain brand. One of these companies is EEF member David Nieper. For over 55 years, this Derbyshire-based business had continued to grow its customer base and reputation for being a leader in British-made clothing for women. The brand oversees its product range from design through to shipping to customers – a vertical integration model that’s a rarity in today’s textile marketplace.
The company, which boasts an annual turnover of over £16 million, credits its longevity to its commitment to doing as much in house as possible and controlling their route to market. Their facilities in Alfreton undertake nearly all aspects of their product’s journey:
- Textile sourcing
- Textile cutting
- Sewing and manufacture
- Distribution, packaging and shipping
- Model photography and staging
- Catalogue design, printing and distribution
By keeping production at home and close to its customers (two-thirds of which are in the UK), the company is able to eliminate supply chain problems, bottlenecks and delays, overstock challenges, and waste. It is also a more nimble way to production where the designers can create new tailoring or other alterations mid-season if they find a certain design isn’t selling well or generating a higher than average number of customer returns.
While Brexit has been a source of uncertainty for many manufacturers, David Nieper’s MD says it is an opportunity to boost brand Britain as well as a chance to export more given the more competitive exchange rate.
The biggest challenge for David Nieper is a common one for many UK manufacturers: finding and retaining the specialist skills they need. The company has taken matters into its own hands by starting its own sewing school on site, working with government to become a National Apprenticeship Trailblazer for the textile industry as well as sponsoring their local secondary school called the David Nieper Academy.