Originally published in drapersonline.com
BY KIRSTY MCGREGOR
A survey by Barclays and research agency Conlumino shows that 28% of British retailers are considering changing their sourcing countries following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. There are myriad other factors driving changes to the sourcing map, such as the demand for faster fulfilment, ethical and legal considerations after incidents including the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, and political turmoil in locations such as Turkey.
Some smaller sourcing markets stand to profit from these changes and, although the Barclays research suggests EU countries may fall out of favour with British retailers, Portugal is enjoying resurgence.
Closer to home, UK brands and retailers increasingly favour factories in Portugal, where there is good infrastructure and faster delivery.
“More [brands] appear to be sourcing near-shore than before, primarily because of the speed of delivery, working closer to the seasons and prices going up in the Far East,” observes Buzz Carter, event director for near-shore sourcing show Fashion SVP.
Portugal has always had a significant manufacturing industry. “It is very competitively priced, the quality is high and factories there have speed of turnaround and ability to work with some of the last-minute changes retailers and brands are looking for,” says Mansell. “They understand the British business mentality.” Brands and retailers are also turning to some of these countries because they carry a lower risk. For example, fashion businesses can be reasonably confident that factories in Portugal complete due diligence in setting up any ethical strategies.
We find it easier to source more premium textiles and fibres from within Europe, and the consistency of product and the workmanship is excellent. We work with smaller quantities and the lead times can be more flexible than sourcing from the East. There is less emphasis on filling containers to gain good freight rates, and there are no duty rates to take into account. We can solve any issues quickly and we have the ability to take on repeats within season, although Portuguese factories do suffer from production capacity constraints in the peak season like any other country.
We find that development can be facilitated quickly and the mills and factories have a better understanding of the European market trends to bring ideas and concepts to us. We believe, as do many of our customers, that consumers consider “Made in Portugal” in the label to be a stamp of quality and understand the more premium nature and limited production that lies behind its creation.