a movement that advances slowly but surely

2021 was a “record” year in France with a positive balance of 120 factories created in the territory, according to Trendeo. The pandemic, the war in Ukraine and, above all, the environmental crisis are pushing companies to relocate their supply chain. The challenge is to reinvent economic models based on short circuits by limiting price increases.

The reindustrialization movement outlined before the pandemic is accelerating. Penalized for supply cuts During the lockdown or the war in Ukraine but also driven by the desire to preserve the environment, companies are mobilizing to repatriate all or part of their industrial tool. After decades of disappearance of the productive apparatus in France with a manufacturing industry that has gone from 14% of GDP to 10% in ten years, the creation of factories is once again on the rise in the territory. The specialized Trendeo index thus records a positive balance of 120 factories created (176 creations and 56 closures).

Last year, business relocations, that is, the repatriation of production that French companies themselves made or subcontracted abroad, “increased considerably” from 30 in 2020 to 87, the economic data company also indicates. Therefore, he qualifies 2021 as a “record” year in France for the industry.

Du made in France accessible

However, the movement is taking place slowly, the figures of 120 new factories or 87 relocations seem low compared to the 3 million companies established in France. This movement is slowed down by the disappearance of certain ecosystems but also because companies have to reinvent their economic models. This is the focus of the Fashion Cube factory located in Neuville en Ferrain in northern France. She designs clothes for the brands Jules, Grain de Malice, BZB, Pimkie or Rouge Gorge Lingerie. “These brands have come together to jointly reinvent a business model with a mission to produce only what sells. The goal is to offer affordable made in France”, says Christian Kinnen, General Manager of Fashion Cube Denim Center. These products will be at most 20% more expensive than their Asian equivalents.

The “Made in France” jeans will leave this workshop in April and will be sold in Jules boutiques at 59.99 euros. At this price, cutting, sewing and washing are done in France with fabrics from Turkey. In short, the goal is to produce 410,000 jeans a year with a hundred employees. “We cannot import the production method from Bangladesh, so we will pursue automation, reduce waste and restore value with French production.e,” says Christian Kinnen.

Automation to reduce costs

Pimkie’s former CSR manager plans to replicate the model in other regions and across other products. In addition, the factory, which uses 40 times less water than a conventional workshop, wants to incorporate as many recycled materials as possible, for example by creating threads from reclaimed clothing. It is also thanks to innovative technologies that the Lunii company, which designs story boxes for children, has managed to relocate its production without increasing the price of its products. The group found a French manufacturer capable of designing the object in a more automated way. This system allowed the young company to grow from around sixty operators in China to three teams of 5 people in France.

However, relocation is not always the solution. In a report, the IMF calls instead for a diversification of supplies to deal with shocks. “Dismantling global production chains is not the solution: more diversification, not less, improves resilience”underline the three economists behind this report, Davide Malacrino, Adil Mohommad and Andrea Presbitero.

Mathilde Golla @Mathgolla

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