At last, the penny has dropped and UK firms are bringing manufacturing back home!
The UK’s manufacturing sector has undergone huge changes over the past few decades, changing focus from one of purely price to concentrating on offering quality and expertise.
The fashionable economic decisions made by suits who live without the consequences have at last been found out and we’re back to reality with an increasing number of companies favouring the UK and bringing back work to British shores – ‘reshoring’
Having once looked to cut costs by moving production to low-cost emerging nations, more businesses are realising what a false economy it was and returning to the UK as the actual cost to business and country is realised. But cost isn’t the only reason. Britain’s reputation for excellence, the responsive supply chains and ease of communication with customers has now been recognised as worth having and valuable. The move may be gradual but it is encouraging to see the change happening. To be closer to customers and have ever greater control of quality makes increasingly sound business sense.
Reliability of Supply
The reliability that comes with domestic production has to be a sound reason for bringing it home. With speed to market ever more important and manufacturers seeking greater flexibility to respond to customer requirements, the value of shorter supply chains can not be under estimated.
Just consider recent challenges from natural disasters, recession, international incidents and the fluctuating transport costs.
Manufacturers have to deliver every time – something of a problem with factories on the other side of the world and long supply chains. Obvious really wouldn’t you say?
Meeting the standards required to deliver high-quality products is a prime reason for reshoring production for many, particularly so for smaller businesses where reputation is so important and losing a contract because a product did not meet specification could see a company fail. There remains a lack of confidence that overseas operators will supply to the required quality and specification and even less that they will respond quickly to rectify.
The benefits of moving work closer to home are also being seen on a pure financial basis. For many, profits have risen as a direct result of reshoring. Inevitably, reshoring delivers a jobs boost but the increase is relatively small. However, the jobs tend to be worth having and likely to be highly skilled, technical and well paid. All good news for the continuing development of the industry and the country as a whole.
Time for a rant
Government decision-making in tax, skills, climate change policy and our relationship with Europe must be aligned with the reality of manufacturing investment cycles if we are to seriously re-balance the economy. Think long term, develop new products and techniques, foster new suppliers and invest in new capacity, all returns that are measured in years for successful businesses.
Take it on-board, see beyond terms of office and we can all continue to enjoy more companies backing Britain and bringing production back to the UK.