“We like the “Made in England” label,” says Kaye. “It’s well-recognised by clients. Besides, there are certain specialist techniques that are only available over here.”
Kaye’s £3m-turnover firm provides cashmere products to major haute couture houses across the UK and Europe. These items have to be perfect: knitwear products can be manufactured in Asia, but the high-end woven accessories are finished in Britain.
“We do our digital printing in the UK,” explains Kaye. “With traditional printing, a cashmere stole will have a beautiful print on one side, but the other side will look like a mistake. Our technology makes our products look perfect on both sides.”
This system has its downsides. The demise of sterling against the dollar has prompted a huge rise in the cost of fibre production. “It’s a 20 per cent increase that we’ve had to pass on to the customer,” says Kaye.
To streamline the business processes and boost margins, Kaye approached the Design Council for a helping hand. “They gave us a complete overhaul of the business,” he says.
The Designing Demand team reviewed the operation, and found that the creative team was preoccupied with admin and negotiations with weavers, pinners and knitters. “Since the review, we’ve created a whole new design studio, and now our designers are allowed to be designers. They’re not bogged down with production problems that were clogging up the work flow.”
Kaye predicts a 20 per cent growth spurt for Heritage Cashmere this year off the back of improvements. “This year we will ship 250,000 products,” he says. “Turnover will hit £3.4m.”
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