Mary Portas


Wednesday 11th & Thursday 12th June 2014 – The Old Truman Brewery, London E1 6QL

Mary Portas, and Ian Maclean managing director of John Smedley have been announced as keynote speakers for the first-ever Meet the Manufacturer conference – to address the potential of a full-scale return of fashion and textiles manufacturing to the UK.

Organised by Kate Hills, founder of Make it British, the Meet the Manufacturer conference and sourcing event will take place on 11 & 12 June 2014 at The Old Truman Brewery in London’s East End.  One and two-day conference tickets can be purchased at day one targeted at bigger brands aiming to reshore back to the UK, and day two focused on smaller companies looking to launch and build Great British brands, and work with UK factories.

As the first event of its kind, over 1000 clothing brands, retailers, buyers and manufacturers are expected to come together to find out how to make UK manufacturing work for them, and meet face-to-face with British factories and suppliers.

Mary Portas will open the conference and will be joined by an inspiring line-up of more than 20 leading manufacturers, fashion brands and industry experts from Private White V.C., Roland Mouret, ASOS, Fashion Enter, Reshore UK and MAS, John Smedley, Joseph Cheaney & Sons, Gaddum & Gaddum, Albam Clothing, Creative Skillset, London Cloth Company, Eve Pollard Designs, Grey Fox Blog, TheGreat British Banjo Company and The All in One Company providing advice and real-life experiences of building British brands, how to successfully manufacture in the UK and work with British factories, and why producing locally makes good business sense.

Alongside Kate Hills, broadcaster and award-winning journalist, Lucy Siegle, will chair a series of panel discussions asking ‘what does Made in Britain actually mean?’, ‘do customers really care where their clothes are made?’ and ‘how do you compete with companies that are ‘faking it British’ and making overseas?’

Attendees can also meet exhibitors from across the fashion and textile sectors at the Meet the Manufacturer trade show and there will be networking lunches on both days of the conference.

Kate Hills, founder of Make it British, the campaign for the return of UK manufacturing, said: “We are poised at the start of a new industrial revolution in textile and clothing manufacturing, but this will only happen if retailers, buyers, brands and manufacturers get together to make it happen.

“Concern over complex supply chains and the use of unethical sweatshops, as well as rising costs overseas and quality issues has fuelled an 850% increase in demand from clothing retailers and fashion brands looking to source locally in the UK*.  Yet, after years of outsourcing overseas, the industry is disconnected, and more than 60% of manufacturers aren’t yet seeing the impact in terms of this demand**.  Meet the Manufacturer aims to change this, introduce brands to manufacturers and share knowledge and advice, so that UK fashion and textile manufacturing does indeed return.”

Further details, including the full line-up of speakers, agenda and tickets for one and both days of the conference, can be found at

You can follow Meet the Manufacturer on Twitter and follow the hashtag #MiBMM

Partners and sponsors for Meet the Manufacturer, include Design Trust, Just Style, Fashion Angel, Loft and Move-it.





For more information about the Meet the Manufacturer event, to interview Kate Hills or any of the speakers, please contact Olivia Jones or Ellen Carroll at Nellie PR on 01392 247 948 or email /

*There were 2272 requests sent to the Make it British website in January 2014 from companies looking for UK manufacturers versus 265 in September 2012.

**According to a survey by Make it British carried out in 2014, 60% of manufacturers said that business had remained at about the same level as in the previous 12 months.

PHOTO: Hills Make it British.jpg

Picture caption: Kate Hills, founder of the Make it British campaign and organiser of the first Meet the Manufacturer event.



Kate Hills founded Make it British, the campaign for the return of British manufacturing, in 2011 as a way of supporting businesses that make their products in the UK.  Starting originally as a blog, the site now incorporates a directory of British-made brands as well as resources for buyers and designers wishing to find British factories to work with.

Having worked as a designer and buyer for over 20 years’, Kate became increasingly frustrated with the dependence of British retailers on Far Eastern suppliers.  Predicting that a UK manufacturing base would one day be essential if companies were to remain competitive, she set up Make it British as a way of giving something back to the industry.


Day one ‘British Manufacturing is Back’ is aimed at larger retailers and brands looking to bring clothing manufacturing back to the UK.  Speakers and panelists will include:

–       Mary Portas, retail expert and founder of the British-made lingerie brand Kinky Knickers – opening the conference and keynote speaker

–       Steven Barr, head of the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) will present details of the Reshore UK initiative

–       Mary Portas, William Church, owner of Joseph Cheaney & Sons and David Evans from Grey Fox Blog, will discuss what the words ‘Made in Britain’ mean to them and whether a ‘Made in Britain’ label really represents quality and craftsmanship these days

–       Jenny Holloway from Fashion Enter and Sophie Glover from ASOS will explain why ‘Made in Britain’ is here to stay

–       Daliah Simble, head of production and sourcing at Roland Mouret will discuss the skills gap in UK apparel manufacturing at a factory and head office level

–       Tony Gaddum from Gaddum & Gaddum, James Shaw from Albam Clothing and Jayne West from Creative Skillset will debate ‘Making it British: the Challenges and Opportunities.’


Day two ‘Building Great British Brands’ will focus on issues faced by smaller brand owners, and start-ups on how to launch and build a Great British brand with advice on how to work with UK factories and manufacturers:

–       Ian Maclean, managing director of John Smedley will deliver the keynote on why the UK is poised for a new industrial revolution

–       James Eden, CEO of British menswear brand Private White V.C. and Simon Middleton, The Great British Banjo on what makes a Great British brand and whether they believe that a ‘Made in Britain’ label can help sales in the UK and abroad

–       Daniel Harris, founder of the micro mill London Cloth Company, and Kate Dawson from The All in One Company, who launched her own clothing company knowing nothing about manufacturing, recount their experiences of setting up their own factories to build their brands

–       Journalist, Eve Pollard OBE, from Eve Pollard Designs shares her thoughts on why manufacturing her clothing label in the UK was the only way to go

–       A panel of UK factory owners and designers will close the day with a discussion on how to get the most from working with UK manufacturers.

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