United Kingdom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign state located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The country includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with another sovereign state—the Republic of Ireland.  Apart from this land border the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea.  The UK consists of four administrative divisions (or countries): England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The latter three of these are devolved administrations, each with varying powers, based in their capital cities Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff respectively. Associated with the UK, but not constitutionally part of it, are the three Crown dependencies: Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.

Market size

  • Solid growth of 2.7% forecast for UK.
    The rate of inflation faced by households is at the joint lowest level since records began in 1996. The Consumer Prices Index increased by 0.5% in the year to December 2014. An inflation rate of 1.60% is expected for 2015.
  • Exchange rate against the AUD expected to remain strong.
  • Eurozone struggling with deflation but 2015 should see signs of recovery helped by a policy of quantitative easing which aims to stimulate growth.
  • GDP increased by 0.5% in the fourth quarter of 2014. The largest contribution to the increase came from the services sector, which increased by 0.8%. The increase in GDP followed growth of 0.8% in Q3 2014. In the latest quarter there were increases in two of the four main aggregates; output increased by 0.8% in services, 1.3% in agriculture. In contrast output decreased by 1.8% in construction and 0.1% in production. GDP was 2.7% higher in Q4 2014 compared with the same quarter a year ago.
  • The United Kingdom has the fifth largest national economy (and second largest in Europe) measured by nominal GDP and eighth largest in the world (and fourth largest in Europe).
  • UK is No. 6 in terms of global importers and No. 10 (in the world) in terms of exports. Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Italy and the top exporting EU countries.
  • London Heathrow is the 3rd largest passenger airport in the world behind Atlanta in the US and Shanghai – approx. 70 million passengers passed through in the year ending Oct 2012.
  • London is the world's largest financial centre alongside New York and has the largest city GDP in Europe.
  • The UK must import almost all its copper, ferrous metals, lead, zinc, rubber, and raw cotton and about one-third of its food. The United Kingdom's exports manufactured items like telecommunications equipment, automobiles, automatic data processing equipment, medicinal and pharmaceutical products and aircraft. Its main trading partners are European Union countries, the United States, China and Japan.
  • Textile manufacturing is a niche luxury market in the UK.


  • The population of the UK grew to 64.1 million in mid-2013, representing a gain of 400,600 (0.63%) over the previous year mid-2012. This growth is slightly below the average since 2003.
  • This means that the UK’s population has increased by around 5 million since 2001, and by more than 10 million since 1964.
  • Natural change (births minus deaths) contributed slightly more than net international migration to the population gain in the year. There were 212,100 more births than deaths (53% of the increase) and 183,400 more immigrants arriving than emigrants leaving (46% of the increase).
  • The estimated populations of the four constituent countries of the UK in mid-2013 are 53.9 million (growth of 0.70%) in England, 5.3 million (growth of 0.27%) in Scotland, 3.1 million (growth of 0.27%) in Wales and 1.8 million (growth of 0.33%) in Northern Ireland.
  • The population of the UK aged 65 and over was 11.1 million (17.4% of the UK population) in mid-2013, up by 290,800 from mid-2012. The number of people in this age group has increased by 17.3% since 2003.
  • Growth of the UK population in the year to mid-2013 was higher than the EU average and highest of the four most populous EU member states.
  • The UK has a fairly even split between male and females, there are slightly more females (approx. 46% male and 54% female).

Key consumer values

  • Fabric or garment care is important.
  • Consumers in the UK have very established perceptions of wool and have a high level of interest in fabrics and fibres.
  • Keen on textiles/fabric quality.
  • Less vain and more practical.
  • Men in the UK are known for their style over women.
  • Price driven – London is home to the ‘high street’. The rise of the supermarket brands and the successes of budget stores like Primark demonstrate this. The leading British designer labels are supported by tourists spending in the UK.
  • The UK has a landfill crisis and the environment is a concern but if making a greener decision affects the price the UK consumer may choose to turn a blind eye.
  • When it comes to a baby or child, provenance and natural becomes more important.
  • Traditional concepts and values.
  • The British consumer can be cynical, they value authenticity.

Opportunity for wool

  • The UK office has established 3 strong platforms; NFF/Cool Wool and CFW that manufacturers, retailers and brands can get involved with.
  • British brands and manufacturers have great strength and resonance overseas particularly in the US and Asia proven by programs such as Gold Woolmark and Paul Smith.
  • London is at the cutting edge of fashion and design.
  • The UK’s fashion education system is widely recognised in the UK and internationally as the best in the world, while the creativity of British graduates is highly valued by international designers (Goodrum (2005).
  • The UK office has a solid, vibrant and dedicated team with experience in marketing, education, product and manufacturing.
  • The UK team has built solid relationships throughout the fashion and textile industry in the UK and overseas so that it has a pool of skilled, credible and influential people within the industry to call upon as required.
  • The location of the London office is central, creative and highly regarded, the space ideal for hosting brands, designers and manufacturers.
  • The Woolmark brand is a strong timeless brand that complements and enhances; it’s recognised as an ideal ingredient brand by Tier 1 British and international brands and publications.
  • TWC has increased its marketing activity between 2010 and 2015 resulting in strong recognition and visibility, we can continue to build momentum.
  • Luxury global brands and publications are open to working in collaboration with TWC.
  • The middle market in the UK is increasing its use of wool and with that the Woolmark brand; meanwhile luxury brands are open again to using the Woolmark brand ensuring equity is built whilst volume is driven.
  • High end licensees servicing luxury global brands have increased.
  • High end weavers and knitters dominate the Woolmark licensees in the UK, introducing opportunity for collaborations in the luxury sector.
  • UK middle market brands are in the position to persuade their supply chains to become licensed, increasing the choice of licensed manufacturers globally providing more intel on volume.