The Guardian

Mulberry plans to expand UK plant to boost supply chain

- Sarah Butler Jasper Jolly

Mulberry is planning to expand its UK factory after the Somerset-based facilities helped the handbag-maker avoid the supply chain problems dogging companies that rely on production abroad.

Thierry Andretta, the chief executive of the British luxury brand, said about 60% of its products were now made in the UK, up from about half before the pandemic.

He said Mulberry had added one extra production line, employing about 50 people, to its UK factory in the past year and was likely to add another if sales continued to grow at a similar pace.

Mulberry said sales increased 34% to £66m in the six months to 25 September, compared with £49m in the same period in 2020 as it bounced back from pandemic-related high street lockdowns. Half-year revenue was £69m two years earlier.

The sales recovery helped the company make pre-tax profits of £10.2m in the half year, compared with a £2.4m loss in 2020, although the 2021 figure included £5.7m from selling a lease in Paris. Mulberry’s share price jumped by 24% yesterday morning to 375p, its highest level since May, as Andretta said the company was “well placed” for the crucial Christmas period.

Andretta said Mulberry had taken the “bold decision” to focus on UK production because it had a strong mix of flexibilit­y, efficiency and quality after years of investment. He added that production had been aided by Mulberry stocking up on key materials ahead of Brexit.

“Some months were really a challenge but we are really proud of what the team achieved,” he said. Mulberry avoided the kind of shortages that have forced some firms, including Germany’s Hugo Boss and Italy’s Benetton, to bring production closer to their home countries.

Supply chain delays, caused by paused production in overseas factories during the pandemic and driver shortages, have been particular­ly problemati­c for fast fashion companies that rely on getting everchangi­ng designs to market quickly.

Mulberry had been a takeover target for the retail tycoon Mike Ashley after a difficult 2020 in which it cut one-quarter of its global workforce. But the company said UK sales had recovered strongly after the end of the last Covid-19 lockdown. Rising sales in Asia also made up for the loss of tourist traffic in its home market.

 ?? ?? ▲ The British luxury brand said about 60% of its products were now made in the UK, up from about half before the pandemic
▲ The British luxury brand said about 60% of its products were now made in the UK, up from about half before the pandemic

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