1988 volume 20(9) pages 1219 – 1233
doi:10.1068/a201219

Cite as:
Gibbs D C, 1988, "Restructuring in the Manchester clothing industry: technical change and interrelationships between manufacturers and retailers" Environment and Planning A 20(9) 1219 – 1233

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Restructuring in the Manchester clothing industry: technical change and interrelationships between manufacturers and retailers

D C Gibbs

Received 6 July 1987; in revised form 16 December 1987

Abstract. In this paper changes in the relationship between the clothing manufacturing sector and its major customer, the retail sector, are examined. Major retailers, in their search for growth, have turned to market segmentation, increased design, and better-quality garments rather than to a strategy based on cost. This has benefitted manufacturers because of the need for close contact with British suppliers. Both manufacturers and retailers have introduced new technology to cope with the associated demand for improved flexibility, turnaround times, and design. The high cost of automation, however, lays the foundation for increasing concentration and capital intensity within the clothing industry. Despite the apparent opportunities created for the British clothing industry by these developments, it is debateable whether manufacturers have taken, or will take, full advantage. In several garment areas there is evidence that the benefits have been going to manufacturers in other member countries of the European Economic Community, who are increasingly being considered as domestic suppliers by British retailers. The significance of imports from these high-cost countries and the implications for the British clothing industry are also considered.

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