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BFC asks for more support, predicts 240k job losses

Published
Jul 16, 2020
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The British Fashion Council (BFC) has called on the UK government to do more to support the fashion and retail sectors as it releases new data from Oxford Economics “that reinforces the stark reality of the impact of the global pandemic on the British fashion industry”.


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It said that a Covid-19-driven recession “could hit the fashion industry twice as hard compared to the UK overall, effectively wiping out the above-average growth achieved by the industry in the past 10 years”.

And it claims 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”.

The fashion industry employed 890,000 people in Britain last year and 240,000 direct job losses are now being predicted. But the BFC added that if you include indirect jobs through the supply chain and consumer spending, this rises to 350,000 which equals 1% of all UK jobs”.

The industry’s contribution to UK GDP is also forecast to drop from £35 billion last year to just £26.2 billion in 2020 as revenues fall from £118 billion to £88 billion.

It’s grim news and comes on the same day that the New West End Company predicted massive potential job losses in the UK’s premier shopping district if there’s no government action.

So what does the BFC want to see being done? It’s asking for government support “to enable lease re-negotiations where landlords aren’t acting responsibly and measures such as grants or long-term interest-free loans to offset the costs of leases, as well as rent and rates relief for all businesses to ensure that our cities and towns don’t see a swathe of closures resulting in mass job losses, and further reduced footfall”.

It also wants to see grants or interest-free loans for SMEs that aren’t eligible for other measures, but were viable pre Covid-19. Further recognising the problems faced by smaller businesses, it wants large retailers to “support small businesses, stopping the cancellation of goods and [offering] sell-through guarantees on agreed orders”.

And it’s calling for the authorities to support the creation of “an eco-system to allow the industry to reset, including smarter manufacturing, waste management, recycling, upcycling, and business models for a world-leading British circular fashion economy”.

Other requests include the exploration of “financial mechanisms that will de-risk businesses for the future, such as supply chain finance”; and a moratorium on payment of duty and tariffs “to support the restart of international supply chains and further support liquidity and cash flow in the industry”.

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