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The UK fashion industry is warning of “decimation” if the government does not cut post-Brexit supply chain red tape “strangling” 52,000 fashion SMEs trading with the EU.
Despite annually contributing £35bn to the economy, employing almost a million people and recording 11% growth rates, Tamara Cincik, CEO of Fashion Roundtable, claims the industry was ignored in the planning for Brexit.
“The sector was heavily slanted to voting Remain because of issues around trade, freedom of movement and the just-in-time business model,” Ms Cincik told The Loadstar.
“I am from the fashion industry, but I worked in Parliament from September 2016 for almost a year, and while there I brought the industry in to meet ministers, as there was a tsunami of concerns.
“But I saw it was not intersecting with political or media debates around Brexit; it has been the core of our work to change this.”
Ms Cincik’s comments follow the publication of an open letter to the government from the fashion industry, spearheaded by Fashion Roundtable, which called for greater levels of support for a sector that generates more GDP than fishing, cars, film, music and pharma combined.
In sharp contrast, the government announced last month it would be supplying the UK fishing sector, with just £1.4bn in annual GDP contributions, a £23m support package.
Chief secretary to the treasury Steve Barclay said: “This will help our hardworking fishing sector navigate the challenges of the next few months.”
And he added: “It is vital that no community nor region within our United Kingdom is left behind as we continue to support British jobs and build back better from the coronavirus pandemic.”
But that message is at odds with reality – not only for fashion, but other sectors. Road Haulage Association spokesperson Paul Mummery told The Loadstar government needed to provide urgent support for the haulage sector, for example
Ms Cincik said the UK’s “thriving” 52,000 fashion-based SMEs “cannot afford” the additional costs associated with new customs paperwork.
“We are calling on government ministers to meet with the industry, because government needs to recognise our value as an industry and that of our workforce,” she added.
“Many jobs are at real risk, this needs to be averted swiftly… Like many, we heard with horror news that some UK brands might have to burn clothes stuck in the EU.”