Thirty years ago Bhavik Master’s parents watched in dismay as orders for their fine knitwear, chunky winter jumpers and cardigans disappeared overseas.
Retailers had discovered they could cut costs by ordering from Chinese manufacturers.
Now though the tables may be turning thanks to the coronavirus.
“We’re seeing an increase in inquiries and confirmed orders coming through,” says Bhavik.
Their factory, based in Leicester under the brand Paul James, is located in a sprawling network of long narrow rooms, filled with looms, colourful yarns and expert sewers seated in rows.
Like dozens of British manufacturers in towns and cities across the UK they could soon be piecing together orders for clients they once lost, because the coronavirus is causing chaos for big retailers and their supply chains.
As factories in China remain largely closed, High Street shops are urgently looking at how they can plug gaps for products that are due on shelves in as little as eight weeks.
“A lot of retailers are worried they’ll have no stock in the stores soon because so much comes from the Far East now, particularly in textiles,” says Kate Hills from Make it British. She set up the new trade body a decade ago when she saw the impact the outbreak of the Sars virus was having on the fashion industry. She struggled to find UK firms to manufacture garments.
Source: BBC News