Decisions on how operations are structured – including the decision to move production activity back to the UK from low-cost economies – take into consideration a range of factors. These factors include aspects of the business environment in the UK as well as overseas, and the objectives of businesses themselves.
From our recently published report Backing Britain: a manufacturing base for the future, we know that one in six UK manufacturers have reshored in the past three years. A similar proportion is also planning to bring activity back to the UK in the next three years.
What are some of the factors that make the UK a great base for manufacturing?
Our survey has some very encouraging findings and companies identify many advantages to conducting their business activities in the UK. The chart below illustrates what is great about Britain.
What's great about BritainAverage score of business environment for manufacturing, where 1=strong disadvantage and 4=strong disadvantageSource: EEF/GfK Make it in Britain survey
These results tells us some key things about UK manufacturers and what is important for them
UK manufacturers take pride in UK capabilities:
- 84% of manufacturers see the UK's reputation for quality products as an advantage to being in Britain.
- At the same time, protecting the products and quality they have worked so hard for it also valued and is a benefit of being located in Britain.
- The quality of suppliers is another advantage of the UK market and points to the importance of collaborating up and down the supply chain.
Britain's links to the rest of the world are important
- Two thirds of firms in our survey see an advantage of the UK as a place to manufacture in terms of proximity to customers.
- Market opportunities offered by the wealthy EU market of more than 500 million people on Britain's doorstep is seen as an advantage by 70% of survey respondents.
- These advantages aren't merely taken for granted, Manufacturers also capitalise on these advantages. For example, 48% of companies said they focus on quality as one of their main areas of competitive advantage. Customer service and maintaining a strong record of delivering to customers on time were also identified by at least one third of those surveyed as the main areas in which they compete.
UK manufacturers are innovative, productive, highly skilled and export focused. A self-sustaining recovery of the British economy built on firm foundations of investment and trade will require a major contribution from a sector that is competitive and globally engaged. Our survey shows that manufacturers are well placed and actively working to contribute to this recovery.