Walpole announces 49% growth for British Luxury Industry in four years

Walpole, the trade body for the British luxury sector which counts over 250 of the UK’s finest luxury brands amongst its membership, has revealed new figures showing that sales from the UK luxury industries have grown 49% in the four years from 20132017. British luxury is now worth £48 billion to the British economy. The report suggests that the British luxury sector will continue to grow rapidly in the medium term and forecasts the value of sales for 2024 to reach around £65 billion, contingent on the UK and EU securing agreement on their future trading relationship.

The report, which was commissioned by Walpole and analysed by international consultancy firm, Frontier Economics, updates metrics last published in 2015 and creates a new benchmark for the sector. The report defines British luxury according to 11 classifications that captures the range of activities across the sector. They include: designer apparel and footwear, fine wines and spirits, luxury accessories, luxury jewellery and timepieces, high-end beauty and personal care and high-end car manufacturing.

The new benchmark points to a sector that is heavily export-orientated with 80% of production, or £38.5 billion in value terms, destined for overseas markets; up 54% since 2013. The top export markets for British luxury goods are the EU, North America and China.

Direct and indirect employment in the British luxury sector grew 38% to 156,000 from 113,000 and accounts for nearly 6% of all jobs created in the UK during 2013-2017. The sector creates long-term, sustainable employment, centred around regional manufacturing hubs, and has a strong focus on training and apprenticeships to fulfil the highly skilled roles required to manufacture products in the UK. Overall, the British luxury sector is growing 9.6% per year on average, attributable mainly to a strong performance in the luxury car sector, outpacing UK average annual economic growth of 4%.

Beyond the immediate economic contribution of the UK’s luxury businesses, revenues generated indirectly highlight the importance and scale of these industries. The main example
is in tourism, reflecting the ever-increasing trend of shopping tourism and the consumption of high-end products whilst travelling. In 2017 the value of sales of high-end goods to non-UK resident customers was £4.5 billion with China, GCC and USA are the top three purchasing nations.

The report identifies distinctive business principles underpinning industries in UK luxury: the allure, or aura, of the brand, reflecting the cultural heritage on which British luxury draws; the rich tradition of skilled craftsmanship; the importance of long-term sustainable relationships with a tight network of suppliers; an emphasis on exceptional product quality, and the role of intellectual property and selective distribution in securing the value-add of the final product.

Download the full report on the Walpole website

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