Opinion

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Made in Britain: Why British manufacturing adds value

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In 2011 there was one event that changed the way the world began to think about our island nation and what we have to offer.

On 29 April, Royal Wedding fever gripped the world with an estimated global audience of over two billion people, and retailers and manufacturers wasted no time in rushing to produce memorabilia and souvenirs. This lead to a bonanza of sales we’ve not seen since the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Diana.

But it wasn’t just commemorative wear that captivated the hearts of overseas buyers.

The sudden demand for all things ‘Made in Britain’ has created no less than a boom in British manufacturing, which has conspired to drive UK clothing brands to produce locally, or bring outsourced manufacturing back to the UK.

And now, three years later, businesses in the UK are both realizing and profiting from the advantages of manufacturing in the UK and ‘Made in Britain’ is back in vogue.

Keeping manufacturing local

As a producer of 100 per cent ‘Made in England’ handbags and accessories, we fought off the original trend of producing in China or the far-east. It was never an option for us.

We yielded any short-term cost cutting for the belief that quality would pay and it has. After all, comparing goods made overseas in China to the goods made in our factory in Bath Spa, is not comparing like-to-like.

In the aftermath of the 70s era of cheap ‘tat’ and plastic imports Made in Taiwan, there was a turning point where ‘Made in China’ became a valued a credible kite-mark. What is clear is that our preferred TV screen brands, for example, have long borne testament to Chinese manufacture and provenance offering us quality, affordability and increasingly good design.

Wary would we be of electronic technology ‘Made in Poland’ where that particular accreditation adds kudos to fine cut glass, which otherwise often comes unbranded.

Manufacturing provenance can say all that a customer needs to know about a product.

Made in England was arguably put out of fashion largely by company cost accountants who had played their part in failing to keep abreast of investment necessary in the UK to protect, consolidate and expand the world-renowned British manufacturing base accrued from centuries earlier.

It was an understandable equation. Sensible business. And in many respects it still is.

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