Best of British Manufacturing
With the rise of the ‘Made in China’ label over the last few decades, it may sometimes seem like British manufacturing has become a thing of the past. However, despite what many people think, Britain is, in fact, the 8th largest manufacturer in the world by output. This is up from the low of 11th back in 2012/13 and puts us ahead of the likes of France and Russia, and just a few places behind Italy and India.
In our latest blog, we’re taking a look at the best of British manufacturing, focusing on the top-performing sectors and how they’re continuing to provide our link to the rest of the world.
The transport sector has always been a strong performer in British manufacturing. One of the biggest sub-categories is the automotive sector; which employs over 160,000 manufacturers in various roles across the UK. Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan and BMW have proven to be some of the most influential brands in the industry for several years, helping to contribute to the 1,816,622 vehicles and 2,545,608 engines that were built in 2016 – the highest level of production reached in 17 years.
Whilst growth in the UK market for cars has been declining as policies on diesel taxation and air quality remain up in the air, global demand has been driving the sector forward. This has encouraged the likes of Toyota and Nissan to commit to building their next-generation models at their UK plants.
Employing over 120,000 people nationwide, the UK aerospace industry has grown to become the largest in Europe and second only to the US in the world. Output has grown 39% since 2011, with ADS Group (the aerospace trade association) reporting sales of £31.8bn in 2016.
Focuses on innovation, new technologies and collaborative working have boosted the industry and lead to many British and international companies choosing to invest here. Rolls-Royce is one of those expanding their operations following the announcement of £150m worth of investment in their new and existing aerospace facilities, with the hope that it will help to double engine production. Additionally, the UK is now Boeing’s third-largest source of supply in the world, just behind the US and Japan.
As one of the major parts of the government’s industrial strategy, the commercial space sector has and continues to be one of the top contributors to British manufacturing. Currently around one in four of the world’s telecommunications satellites are built here and this has helped to establish the UK as a world-leading destination.
As we look to what the future holds running up to and following Brexit, it appears that all is very positive. For example, an £8.4m project at Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall is to get underway soon to create the world’s first commercial deep-space communications station, allowing the tracking of future missions to the Moon and Mars.
Looking at the companies making an impact, global giant Airbus is to open a new base in Derby and is also reportedly committed to the manufacturing of their space exploration and earth observation technology at its Stevenage site. Meanwhile, Effective Space, a company that originated in Israel, has set up its headquarters in the UK. Development, manufacturing and satellite operations will be based here, where it plans to build their Space Drone crafts that will help to extend the life of ageing satellites by keeping them correctly oriented for up to five more years.
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What lies ahead for manufacturers in 2018?
Britain’s manufacturers have so far begun 2018 in the same manner as they left the final few months of 2017 – upbeat and positive. Consistent increases in global demand and a pick-up in the UK market has led to order books filling up and manufacturers feeling more confident as a result.
According to EEF’s latest British manufacturing outlook, output increased by 2.8% in 2017 and much of this is expected to continue in the coming months as we are provided with further clarity on the Brexit process. It is hoped that this will encourage businesses out of their ‘wait-and-see’ stand point and lead to restarts in investment plans.
Despite some uncertainty, the sectors outlined above represent just a few of the many strong indicators of how the UK will perform over the coming years in both domestic and international markets. Their positivity and growth will no doubt be an encouragement for companies and investors alike, leading us and many others to believe that the UK will remain one of the world’s most favourable manufacturing destinations.