UK fashion industry facing ‘decimation’ over Brexit trade deal

Boris Johnson was warned that the UK fashion and textile industry is “decimating” by £ 35 billion (EUR 39.6 billion) due to bureaucracy and travel restrictions imposed by the new post-Brexit EU trade deal .

In an open letter to the UK’s leading Prime Minister, fashion industry, and executives and icons including models Twiggy and Yasmin Le Bon, he said Brexit is choking the complex international supply chains and relationships on which their industry is built.

“The deal with the EU has [LEFT]A gaping hole in which all creative people, including the fashion and textile sectors, should be promised the free movement of goods and services, ”they wrote in the letter coordinated by the Fashion Roundtable, an industry forum.

Ms. Le Bon said the ability to travel freely around the EU for work was “critical” to an industry where models could be assigned to a shoot within hours.

“The richness of this creative industry lies in our ability to move and change quickly. This time we need to be heard and the government needs to work with us before it’s too late. “

Work permits

The concerns reflect recent concerns expressed by the music industry about the need for work permits for each EU Member State and paperwork to move products and equipment and called for urgent government action.

The industry, which has almost 900,000 employees according to research by Oxford Economics, warned last summer that the Covid-19 pandemic had put 250,000 jobs at risk.

Last week, Samantha Cameron, whose husband David, the then Prime Minister, called the 2016 Brexit referendum, warned her fashion business that trading with the EU after Brexit would be “challenging and difficult”.

Many of the 52,000 smaller businesses that make up the backbone of the sector have not been able to afford the professional help needed to navigate the new controls. Customers on both sides of the channel declined purchases due to unforeseen VAT and tariff charges.

Katharine Hamnett, the fashion designer best known for political t-shirts and ethical business practices, said: “We need to radically revise customs regulations, including VAT, for all goods entering the EU by the end of February, or British ones will die Brands . ”

Helen Brocklebank, the executive director of Walpole, the luxury sector group that includes Alexander McQueen and Burberry, said the government needed to simplify the post-Brexit trade regime and boost retail tourism.

“With 42 percent of all UK luxury export sales from the EU, many of our members – not least SMEs – have concluded, due to the cost and administrative burden of trading in continental Europe, that they simply cannot afford to continue to shop these lands for sale, “she said.

‘Existential Crisis’

Isabel Ettedgui, the executive director of Connolly, the Savile Row fashion brand that sells Scottish cashmere and makes leather goods in Spain, said the financial impact of Brexit could be existential. “The result could be the possible closure of a 185-year-old company that holds the Royal Warrant,” she said.

The more than 400 signatories called for “urgent action” from the government to protect an industry that is highly fragmented but which, according to research by Oxford Economics for the British Fashion Council, was estimated to be 1.6 percent of the UK’s gross domestic product last year.

The Fashion Roundtable calls for the government to immediately add textile workers to the UK visa “bottleneck” list to fill thousands of jobs in UK clothing factories. She also calls for tax breaks to encourage sustainable paperless travel practices and negotiation for British creatives and their gear in the EU.

The group again urged the government to overturn its decision to end the retail export program that had allowed international visitors to reclaim 20 percent of VAT on their purchases, but ended on Jan. 1.

The cabinet office said it was working closely with companies in the fashion industry to adapt to the new retail environment and was aware that some companies were facing challenges.

“We operate export helplines, conduct webinars with policy experts and provide business support through our network of 300 international trade advisors,” said a spokesman. “This is on top of the millions we have invested in expanding the customs brokerage sector.”

– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021

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