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BLOG Meet our Advisers – #2 Altaf Ahmed

6 April 2021

We caught up with Altaf Ahmed, our Senior Business Adviser who specialises in supporting the Fashion and Textiles sector, to see what he’s focussing on right now:

As we know, the last twelve months have been extremely difficult for businesses across the UK due to Covid and Brexit. Most specifically, the fashion and textiles sector continues to face many additional challenges as a result of negative media attention. Historically, fashion and textile businesses have been resilient and have always bounced back stronger.

I believe that the time has now come to re-think and adopt a business model that is more sustainable in the long run. This may mean thinking about diversification such as using alternative materials, developing new products and/or new markets. We also need to consider bringing efficiencies into the business and meeting the stringent audit criteria that will satisfy client needs. On top of this, issues such as how to secure to support capital investment and the necessary upskilling of staff are perennial.

Innovation is also a concept that needs to be embraced by the sector for so many reasons. Innovative diversification helps a business survive during hard times; customers have changing expectations of course and on top of that there is need, now established in UK law, to address climate change and the carbon footprint of our items of clothing. We will see this become more important in the near future and it’s always better to prepare for charge rather than have to react to it. I have worked with many businesses from the fashion and textile sector, looking at achieving sustainable business growth and we’ve explored ideas for overcoming various challenges including, but not limited to, how to secure funding and bringing efficiencies into the processes.

This type of collaborative working, sharing expertise and knowledge with support from your business adviser, is a way forward to bring innovation and new product development. A recent example of such collaboration is where I worked with like-minded knitwear manufacturing businesses and brought in additional expertise from machine dealers and a chemical product manufacturer. This resulted in developing a revolutionary 3D design, knitted from 100% supima cotton with an anti-microbial finish and a filter pocket. The businesses; Jack Masters, Vinola Knitwear and Dee Kay Knitwear, worked together as a single unit, assisted by Shima Seiki and Micro Fresh. You can see the full story here: https://bit.ly/3v7IUEa

Whatever the idea your business is currently exploring or if you just need an external perspective on your issues, I am here for you as the industry specialist with extensive knowledge and technical expertise in the field.

Growth Hub client, Hassan Makadam of T.R.Y. Limited has this to add: “What can I say about the support we’ve had from Altaf? He’s been fantastic, in regard to filling out the grant application forms and just general advice. We’ve dealt with Altaf for over four years now, not just recently, and he’s always been there for us. We’ve been in touch with him over the last eight months or so because we’ve been having meetings about the new Fashion Hub so all his help and advice is truly appreciated more than ever.”