From exports to experts: why UK manufacturing is booming

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British manufacturing is enjoying a renaissance. We spoke to Charles Garfit, (Santander’s former Head of Manufacturing), to understand why this is the case – and what it means for the industry.

Santander and EEF recently launched their 2016 Fact Card, which shows all of the latest and greatest figures from the UK’s thriving manufacturing sector.

As always, the Fact Card has thrown up all kinds of impressive numbers and interesting trends. So let’s dive in.

The numbers

Britain is currently the world’s ninth largest manufacturer with an annual output of £190bn. Output per hour, productivity, that really hot topic has improved in the sector three times faster than it has in the economy as a whole.

As we look more closely at the numbers, it’s easy to see why we’re storming ahead in the national and international rankings. We innovate and have a truly international outlook. Manufacturing accounts for 68% of business R&D and makes up 10% of UK exports.

And let’s not forget the people who make the sector so successful. With an average wage of £31,489pa (compared to the national average of £27,607pa), manufacturing provides great careers and livelihoods. Currently, the sector employs 2.7 million people in the UK.

In the UK, Manufacturing has created more jobs than most other developed countries: only the USA has performed better.

The trends

We’re looking at a bright picture. But what does the future of British manufacturing look like and what key trends should we be paying close attention to?

1. Buying British abroad

UK manufacturing is a truly global sector. The international appetite for British exports is huge. 45% of manufacturing output is already exported to international markets – and it’s really no wonder.

After all, we make products that the rest of the world want to buy. Whilst collectively the member states of the EU remains our biggest trading partner the US is our largest single market

Our most productive manufacturing subsectors – Food and Drink, Pharmaceuticals, and Transport - are highly valued abroad, ‘made in UK’ conveys value and quality. This climate offers exciting opportunities for companies that want to expand their businesses.

2. The spirit of innovation

British manufacturing has had a tough ride, but that has created a legion of world-class businesses who know how to survive and prosper – take Jaguar Land Rover as an example. Key to that prosperity is the ability to adapt and to innovate and to make things people really want.

The UK’s passion for R&D is pushed by strong partnerships between business and universities, helping manufacturing to evolve and embrace the 4th industrial revolution.

The Government backed Catapults are also starting to add real value. Manufacturers who want to develop their offerings can take advantage of this climate to achieve their ambitions.

3. Local networks

Forget the misconception that the North and Midlands are the only places where we make things – manufacturing is strong across the country.

How Santander can help

At Santander, we believe that UK manufacturing has a bright future. We can help you build your business, expand overseas and become part of the success story that is British manufacturing. If you’re interested in getting support for your manufacturing business, contact your local Santander Relationship Director. We help UK manufacturers develop their ideas and meet demand, here and around the world. For more information, visit

Download the Fact Card here >



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