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Royal visit to New Balance’s UK manufacturing facility


HRH The Princess Royal visited Flimby in West Cumbria to see New Balance’s UK manufacturing facility, in her role as president of UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT).

US-based New Balance started manufacturing shoes in Workington, West Cumbria in 1982 and moved to nearby Flimby in 1991. New Balance employs 273 people at its UK site and is a member of UKFT’s Federated Member the British Footwear Association (BFA).

The UK site produces more than 12,000 pairs of shoes a week, which equates to more than 580,000 pairs a year.

The company has developed value streams under the Japanese ‘lean’s system of manufacturing, which has reduced production times from start to finish of 2-3 weeks down to under three hours.

Andy Okolowicz, New Balance’s factory manager, said: “Made in Britain is significantly important to our survival, with consumers buying the craftsmanship as well as the materials.

“We are particularly proud to have the immense privilege of welcoming Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to our factory here in Flimby. The royal visit stands as a special moment for all of us.”

The Royal Visit forms part of UKFT’s Let’s Make It Here initiative, which celebrates Britain’s rich manufacturing heritage.

Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT, said: “It is fantastic for HRH The Princess Royal to see the good work a global brand like New Balance is doing in West Cumbria, where it has been committed to locally-producing high-quality shoes in the UK since 1982.

“Now more than ever we need to invest in UK manufacturing and ensure we create the right environment and pipeline of new talent for the industry to thrive for many years to come.”

HRH The Princess Royal presented awards to the longest-serving members of the New Balance team and she was given a pair of custom-made trainers, complete with HRH stitching.

UKFT’s Let’s Make It Here website allows designers and brands to search by product type, support services or location, to make it easier to source in the UK. The database covers all stages of the supply chain, including yarn, fabric, garments and accessories, as well as ancillary support services, such as pattern cutters.

The website attracts significant interest, not only from the UK but globally, with many of the enquiries coming from overseas, providing those listed with export opportunities to promote the heritage, efficiency and craftsmanship of UK manufacturing.


(Picture credit above: Sarah Irving.)