Woolen textile production has fallen by a third in the last year due to the introduction of the “Woolen Factor” as the country’s textile industry relies on the UK to feed the global textile industry.
As a result, the UK has been losing a fifth of its textile production to the EU, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The number of UK textile factories fell by 14% between June and September 2016, compared to the same period last year, according the ONS.
While the ONSS has not yet released data for the last two years, industry analysts said the trend was unlikely to reverse.
“The Woolen Factor has made the UK textile industry much more vulnerable than it was prior to the WFP, and that means more jobs lost than gained,” said Mark Price, research director at the London-based UK Centre for Manufacturing Studies (LCMS).
“The fact that the Woolen factor has been introduced into the UK machinery sector and into the textile industry is a sign of the global decline of UK manufacturing.”
In the last few years, the Woolens industry has lost more than 4,000 jobs, according TOEFL data.
The UK is the largest market for British textile products, and is expected to lose around £6.5bn in exports by 2030.
A recent report by the UK Manufacturing Council found that British textile exports have fallen by 9% over the last five years, with the most recent figures showing a fall of 17% between the first quarter of this year and the first week of March.
“In the past, Woolen mills have been highly competitive in the market,” said Price.
“But the introduction and subsequent decline of the Woolene Factor, and the fact that they have become more competitive in a global marketplace has meant that there is a significant amount of loss of manufacturing capacity.”
The impact of the WFOF on the industry is also being felt elsewhere in the world.
“WFOF is a big worry because the UK is now a very important market for global manufacturers,” said Lacey Wood, chair of the UK and Irish textile trade association, the Association of British Manufacturers (ABM).
“It’s not just the UK where the global market for woolen yarn has collapsed.
The loss of UK mills has also had a devastating impact on other European countries, which are seeing their textile exports plummet.”
This has led to a global glut in wool, leading to a worldwide shortage.
While Woolen Mills have lost about 2,000 full-time jobs over the past two years due to this glut, a recent report published by the National Association of Woolen Mill Operators (NAWMO) found that the UK alone had lost 1,300 jobs to this process.
This has resulted in a rise in the price of wool, and caused Woolen UK to slash its workforce by 25%.
This has also impacted the UK market for American-made wool.
The Woolen Alliance, a trade group representing wool mills, said the Woolentown plant in Gloucestershire had suffered a loss of 1,000 manufacturing jobs, with a further 700 jobs lost due to a decline in orders from other European nations.
“We have been losing jobs to a variety of factors, but the main factor was the Wooles WFOE and WoolenFactor,” said a Woolentow, Gloucesterhire, spokesman.
“For our mill we have lost a significant number of full-timers over the years and we are now looking to cut our workforce in half.”
The Woolentower is now looking at a third of its workforce, and it has already announced it is cutting back on manufacturing.
However, the industry in the UK also faces an international downturn.
“A number of factors have contributed to the Wooless decline, including the Woolenaar Factor, which is set to reduce demand for our products in the coming months,” said Wood.
“Secondly, the global crisis in global wool production has led many mills to reduce their workforce and to reduce the amount of work they can deliver.”
However, there is hope that the trend may change.
“If we are to continue to make products, there are certain things that can be done to support manufacturing in the long term,” Wood said.
“One of those things is that we need to find ways to support the manufacturing industry.”
A new Woolen industry, a new industry, and a new way to make clothes, are not something that can wait.
“It is an opportunity for the industry to make more products and increase the number of jobs in the industry,” said Woods.
“There is a lot of opportunity here, there’s a lot more money in it and the industry will have to respond in a more effective way.”
For the UK Woolen Industry, it is about turning a blind eye to the decline.
“I don’t want to see the industry die, I want to ensure that it is viable