I say old chap, “Made in good old Blighty was it?”
There is an expanding cachet about things that are “Made in Britain”. It carries with it an expectation of quality, originality, exclusivity, dependability and more. As the advantages of manufacturing in the far east start to dwindle due mainly to higher standard of living expectations, increased labour and spiking energy costs, so many UK manufacturers are “comin’ ‘ome”. Some never left.
There has, of recent years, you’ve probably noticed, been a leaning towards “local is good” which has now spread from smaller communities to having an impact globally. There is a definite commercial advantage to being able to claim that your widgets are made in the land of hope and glory.
Reasons to make stuff in the UK.
• It’s easier to keep tabs on the production process and communicate with a manufacturer who speaks your language. This can have profound benefits for managing the quality of design and manufacture, not to mention quality assurance schemes like ISO. (Oops I did mention it.)
• There is an increasing demand for goods manufactured in the UK, particularly, and somewhat ironically, from China, whilst the citizens of the good ‘ole US of A have always been a bit partial to a slice of British quality, fashion and heritage.
• A shorter supply chain facilitates shorter lead times and facilitates lower stock holdings which in turn keeps more wedge in the bank. (Coincidentally, and this was a pure coincidence, we manufacture, here in Britain, a product called Wedge Whiteboards).
• Intellectual Property Rights. We’re a law-abiding bunch here on our little collection of rocks, we’re well known for our fair play and it would just not be cricket to nick someone else’s idea whilst in some countries it’s almost a national sport.
• Better safety regulations. Our brethren in Asia don’t seem to always get the same level of industrial protection mandated here in the UK. So, by choosing a UK manufacturer you could literally be saving someone’s life.
• Kinder on the environment. I’m sure that most people are aware of the cavalier attitude to waste disposal that seems to be prevalent in the east (And I don’t mean Lowestoft). Our strict rules on waste disposal I would assume result in less environmental impact.
• And it puts more money in the pockets of people like me. Thanks very much.
There are now around 2.7 million of us engaged in UK manufacturing activity earning an average salary of around £32, 500 (Excuse me, I need to go and ask for a pay rise.)…………….. No, the average remains unchanged.
We’re the 9th largest manufacturing economy in the world despite being only the 21st largest population. That concurs with the observations that manufacturing, particularly in quality focussed Britain, is now a niche industry. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
There’s a value in exclusivity and a belief that whilst we may not be the cheapest, we may well be the best. Ever get that warm glow of comfort when you board your sunshine bound holiday jet and you look out the window to see the entwined R’s of Rolls Royce on the engines? Me too. Our North American cousins have a saying “If I’m going, I’m going in a Boeing”, well, “If you give me choice, I want mine powered by Rolls Royce”.
According to that other bastion of the establishment, the BBC, UK manufacturing output is at its highest for 10 years, and as they say, 50,000,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong. So that cachet, I believe, is very real. Made in the UK symbolises quality, trust, exclusivity and longevity, a bit like the Monarchy. Rule Britannia.