The financial woes that have hit the world’s second largest economy in recent months have been described by some as the “Great Fall of China”, as they spread uncertainty across the rest of the world’s markets. But what does this mean for the UK manufacturing market? As costs continue to rise with a burgeoning middle-class culture in the Far East, many brands are returning their manufacturing home.
According to a survey carried out by Engineering Employers’ Federation (EEF), 1 in 6 manufacturers have re-shored elements of their activity to the UK. And despite what many may think, Britain is performing well; the country stands as the 11th largest manufacturing nation in the world. But why should your business choose a UK manufacturer to support you?
As possibly one of the most obvious advantages, lead times are a popular reason to stay British. EEF’s survey reported that 49% of manufacturers are re-shoring elements of their activity back to the UK to improve the certainty and length of delivery times. And as manufacturing is an area whereby ‘buying British’ can be the difference between missing a deadline and delivering on time, it’s no surprise that this is the case.
Manufacturers in the UK are focused on R&D, with the majority continuing to invest in technology, innovation and their workforces. British manufacturing is more advanced and creative than ever, and to ensure its survival, companies have had to become flexible, quick and efficient in dealing with changes to raw materials, customer requirements and manufacturing resources.
The UK has a strong innovative pedigree. British citizens have been responsible for many a revolutionary invention; from telephones and jet engines to televisions and ATMs, to name but a few. As the government looks to embed the UK as an innovation leader on the global landscape, our workforces will grow increasingly qualified and skilled. We can expect to see the pioneering products of today soon become the everyday products of tomorrow.
Britain has an undeniable reputation for excellence thanks to the expertise and quality that is delivered by its manufacturers. This was reiterated in EEF’s survey, as 84% believe that this reputation is a major advantage for manufacturing in the UK. British standards have outlined specifications that have enabled companies to create products that are practical, safe and of a certain quality; something that isn’t always guaranteed across the world.
If taking control of your supply chain is a top priority for you, as it is for many business owners, then ‘buying British’ can be an ideal way to do so. The confidence that is gained by just being assured of simple things, such as being close to your product or sharing the same language and understanding as your suppliers, should not be underestimated. These can be significant barriers when sourcing from across the world.
Manufacturing is vital to the economic prosperity of the UK, accounting for over 10% Gross Value Added (GVA) in terms of goods produced and employing around 2.6 million people. It can be difficult to compete with nations such as the USA and China, due to the sheer size of their populations, but the UK has proven in recent years that the manufacturing sector has performed well in challenging times and manufacturer confidence remains robust. So although globalisation has been beneficial in so many ways to today’s way of living, the UK’s manufacturing sector is making a very strong case to look closer to home next time you are looking for a manufacturing partner to support your businesses development.