China last week overtook South Korea in the field of sock manufacturing, and the word from Beijing is that China has no intention of taking its foot off the gas and slipping back to world sock manufacturer number two.
A disappointed South Korean sock delegate said today in Harbin:
"We gave it our best shot, but it was inevitable that China would eventually surpass us. They've got it spot on as far as sock design and manufacturing is concerned. It's possible that we could have held them off a little longer, but the investment just wasn't there."
China now not only blazes the trail as a sock manufacturing powerhouse, they also lead the way in shirts, off the peg suits for males and females, casual trousers, tee shirts, jeans and jumpers.
Which could be bad news for Britain's leading bespoke sock designer/manufacturers Socks 4 Feet, of Dunstable. Socks 4 Feet MD Horace Wimple admitted that his company faces some tough times ahead:
"We're down to a workforce of 71 now," He grumbled. "It used to be 706, but we had to lay a lot of people off when the Chinese flooded the market in 2004, and it's been a struggle ever since. We've done everything in our power to keep the business afloat, including diversification into jumper and overcoat manufacture, but they've pretty much got those markets sewn up as well. You could say that they've stitched us up like kippers - but you wouldn't. Because that would be quite possibly the most terrible pun in recorded history."
More as we get it.