There’s no denying that this is a very tough time and COVID-19 is starting to affect people’s business and personal lives. We’re extremely sympathetic to those who have been adversely affected by the virus, but in a time of perpetual gloom, we felt the need to highlight some of the good which often comes with the bad.
When we were hunting for manufacturers two years ago, we naturally considered all of our options which included getting our tartan scarves made overseas in countries such as China, India and Portugal. However, our desire was always to launch a Scottish brand with a Scottish manufacturer, and we were delighted when we found a mill in the Highlands who were keen to experiment and develop our product vision.
There are some brilliant overseas manufacturers producing high-quality products, but there were a number of important factors in choosing a Scottish manufacturer.
- We’re Scottish and wanted to build an authentic Scottish brand.
- The Scottish wool and textile industry is one of the most respected in the world.
- We wanted to support local industry in Scotland.
- We wanted to minimise the distance our products travelled from mill to customer, reducing our footprint.
- There are no language barrier or time zone issues within the UK (although some may argue being Scottish is sometimes a language barrier!).
Now, fast forward 2 years to the present day and we’re grateful that, at this stage, we haven’t been impacted by the virus which has become a global pandemic. With the COVID-19 outbreak causing supply issues to fashion and textiles brands worldwide, it’s been a stark wake up call for many.
“Many factories in China, where a large proportion of the world’s fashion brands and retailers source their products from, have been shut since January. Further delays to products being shipped have caused even more disruption.” (Kate Hills)
However, there is a silver lining to this otherwise dark supply-chain-shaped-cloud; British fashion and textiles manufactures are reporting a 50% increase in new business enquiries due to the ongoing impact of the virus.
Image credit: Make it British
On the face of things, this is great news. Who doesn’t want new business? Paradoxically, however, manufacturers in the U.K. are somewhat reluctant to take on this new business.
U.K. makers have had their fingers burnt in the past as brands who have suffered supply chain issues overseas pop up and insist on receiving the same prices and terms they were getting in China. British manufacturers can invest time and money in producing a few runs of product for these new customers, only for them to revert to overseas factories shortly after.
The virus hasn’t directly affected Tartan Scarf Co.’s production yet, but is this about to change? Due to the shortage of wool yarns in the global network, the price of raw materials has gone up and 35% of U.K. manufacturers have said their own supply chains had been disrupted because many of their raw materials come from China or Italy. Will this hamper our production? Hopefully not, as wool is kind of integral to our scarves…but only time will tell!
As a supporter of British manufacturing, we welcome this increase in new business and would strongly suggest that other brands look closer at Scotland and Britain as a whole when it comes to choosing manufacturers.
We hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will be over in a few months and that pressure on businesses worldwide will ease again. In the meantime, we sincerely wish all our customers, suppliers and everyone around the world the best during a very challenging time.
For more information on the survey mentioned and the topic in general, check out Kate Hill’s blog post.