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Town leads drive to boost Europe's textile industry.

Byline: HENRYK ZIENTEK Business Reporter

TEXTILE bosses in Huddersfield are taking centre stage for a project aimed at bringing manufacturing back to Europe - and turning the continent's textile industry "into a single community". The Textile Centre of Excellence is hosting a two-day international conference attended by senior figures from the World Bank in Washington and the United Nation's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as well as delegates from 15 countries.

The conference is part of the first annual meeting of the Textile and Clothing Business Labs (TCBL) project - an initiative to transform the textile industry and bring production capacity back to Europe with new business approaches that support local design and production and reduce the sector's impact on the environment.

Textile centre managing director Bill Macbeth said the conference was also focusing on trends in textiles, including how wage rates in China were rising and narrowing the gulf between manufacturing costs there and in the UK.

He added: "Around the world, customers are increasingly choosing clothes based on their ethical and environmental credentials and demanding more personalised and customised products. New commercial technologies and production processes offer opportunities to create innovative new business models that can harness the creative energies of local communities to meet those customers' needs in a fast-growing, global market. The TCBL partnership is about making that happen locally."

He added: "There are 15 regions of Europe with a strong textile heritage. With everything we can do online, that can become one textile community."

Speakers at the conference are covering issues including the importance of heritage and tradition in the sector and the new ground-breaking technologies that are emerging around the world - including ones from the centre itself.

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, who hosts today's conference events, said: "This is a unique and important project - really taking a hard look at what's happening around the world with regard to changing business models and customer demand, where people are increasingly demanding products instantly.

"The partners are aiming to increase sustainable production and support the re-introduction of local manufacturing, working with customers to personalise and co-design products and supporting the development of new collaborations based on a new set of values."

TCBL co-ordinator Jesse Marsh, of Parato in Italy, said he was very excited about TCBL, adding: "We're particularly excited that this is taking place in Huddersfield - one of the textile districts with the greatest potential for developing innovative business models in TCBL."

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Title Annotation:News; Teasers
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jun 21, 2016
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