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Walpole heads trade mission to US as new tariffs come into effect

Lauretta Roberts
22 October 2019

Walpole is leading a trade mission of British luxury brands to the US this week, just as President Trump's new tariffs come into force, meaning some British made products – including many fashion items – face tariffs of up to 40% on entering the US.

The luxury industry body said the US was British luxury’s second largest export market (23% or £8.8 billion in value terms) and its annual trade mission, now in its third year, had never been more important.

Michael Ward, Chairman of Walpole and managing director of Harrods, Walpole CEO Helen Brocklebank and Director of Corporate Affairs and International, Charlotte Keesing are leading the delegation in New Year, which is aimed at encouraging the US to import British luxury goods but also to encourage US tourism to the UK.

Businesses taking part include: Belmond; Chapel Down; Cookson Adventure; Corinthia Hotel London; Cowdray; Harrods; Heathrow VIP; JJ Corry; Johnston’s of Elgin; Kathryn Sargent; Lock & Co; London Sock Company; Molton Brown; MOU London; Sabina Savage; Savoy; Rapport London and Richard Brendon.

Helen Brocklebank, CEO, Walpole said: “British luxury exports almost £9 billion of goods annually to the US and as the UK looks beyond its borders into its future global trading relationships, high-end British brands’ success at doing business overseas will be more important than ever. The US offers a huge growth opportunity for British luxury and the appetite of the US customer for our brands and services grows every year. I’m hugely excited about returning to New York to show the creativity and innovation that typifies luxury in the UK, and to fly the flag for Britain for US visitors thinking of making a trip here.”

Antony Phillipson, HM Trade Commissioner for North America and British Consul General in New York, added: “The US is the UK luxury industry’s second-largest export market, and Walpole's annual trade mission to New York shines a spotlight on tremendous demand for British luxury goods here, renowned for their quality, heritage, and innovation. Three-quarters of UK luxury brands choose the US as their priority export destination, and New York alone comprises 35% of annual luxury goods sales in the US. I'm pleased to welcome Walpole back to the Big Apple for an opportunity-rich programme for some of the most dynamic names in British luxury.”

America is one of the largest and most important luxury markets in the world valued at $78 billion with 35% or $27.3 billion of that value attributable to New York, according to Bain.

However British businesses were dealt a blow when President Trump introduced new tariffs in retaliation over an on-going row with the EU about state subsidies at aircraft maker Boeing and its EU rival Airbus. Many British-made fashion items from Savile Row suits to cashmere sweaters and women's swimwear are now subject to additional tariffs, in some cases taking the tariffs up to 40%.

Last week the UKFT, which supports the international development of British fashion brands, called upon the Government to take immediate action to remedy the situation, saying that waiting for a free trade agreement to be made with the US was not enough.

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