By Chris Wood, General Manager at Incorporatewear
For decades, businesses have made use of low labour costs and commercialised offerings overseas through off-shoring. In the UK, this has lead to a lack of qualified labour and high costs.
The process of reshoring hopes to turn this around. Reshoring allows businesses to take advantage of lower logistics and distribution costs. This, combined with better supplier management, helps to speed up supply chains, reduce working capital and optimise the delivery of new designs and innovative practices.
Although large-scale clothing manufacture remains commercially unrealistic in the UK, near shoring is a suitable alternative. The use of manufacturers and suppliers in Europe keeps supply chains closer to home, and allows business to maintain quality whilst keeping wage costs down. European links allow goods to be transported by road in days, rather than the weeks it takes from the Far East.
Here at Incorporatewear, we make use of near shoring through our links with manufacturers and suppliers around Europe. Many of our tailored garments are sourced from Portugal, where indigenous garment-making skills keep quality high.
Our supply chain also has links with Bulgaria. Incorporatewear makes use of high quality tailoring fabric from a country long-noted for its weaving skills.
Benefitting from experienced manufacturing and quality fabric, this link keeps Incoorporatewear efficient. We are able to minimise production runs, optimise working capital exposure and meet the ever-changing needs of clients fast.
Despite its benefits to businesses, reshoring and near shoring should be treated with caution. Any firm, in any sector, would look to spread its risk, and Incorportatewear is no different. As such, we continue to maintain supplier relationships further afield, and are therefore able to offer a mix-and-match approach to garment supply. We find that the speed, quality and responsiveness of European manufacture is complemented by the slower, cheaper offerings from China and India.
Keeping worldwide links open helps us at Incorporatewear stay ahead of crisis. The majority of our garments can be dual sourced, so being able to switch to a different region to maintain ongoing supply helps to prevent tragedy and keeps business running smoothly.
Reshoring and near shoring are not practices exclusive to large businesses — smaller organisations can likewise reap the benefits. Incorporatewear is a SME with a turnover of around £20 million. With around 80 employees, we are more than capable of taking advantage of near shoring opportunities. Size, in this instance, is not an issue.
In fact, larger businesses and organisations may find it reshoring and near-shoring impractical. Unlike niche businesses with links to niche suppliers, the big players in business may struggle with the adaptability, agility and speed of niche markets.
But reshoring and nearshoring faces competition against the desire for localisation. Increasing demand for locally produced goods offers the prospect of higher margins. Whilst this national or regional pride has demonstrated high corporate returns, increased local employment and faster innovation, reshoring and near shoring remains a sustainable practice for us here at Incorporatewear.
As the world becomes ever more “global,” reshoring, nearshoring, and positive worldwide links will become ever more important for efficient distribution and supply.