Manufacturing’s Coming Back To The UK
MANUFACTURING is coming back to the UK. That’s what Vince Cable claims at least, that there’s more manufacturing coming into the UK than there is leaving for places with cheaper labour:
Vince Cable has heralded the prospect of British manufacturing “becoming great again” as he revealed that twice as many small and medium sized manufacturers are bringing production back to the UK as are sending work overseas.
In what will be viewed as a boost for the British economy, Mr Cable, the Business Secretary, disclosed details of a new Manufacturing Advice Service (MAS) survey which shows that 11pc of respondent’s reshored production to the UK in the past 12 months, against 5pc who had sent production overseas.
We’re not going to get the return of mass employment in manufacturing, of course. For it’s now becoming cheaper to put a series of robots on a line than even using armies of poorly paid Chinese. Mainly because Chinese wages have risen so much in the past 15 years (from, on average, $1,000 a year to $6,500 a year).
But small scale manufacturing of high value goods, yes, that makes sense to bring it back here. And so, as tends to happen when people see a profit to be made, that small scale manufacturing is coming back.
A small example I hapen to know about: the major fashion chains are still using factories in Bangladesh, China and so on. But they must order 6 months in advance, it takes a minimum of 30 days to get stuff here and so on. So, what if they’ve got a design that becomes that season’s must have hit? They can’t actually go and order more from the East. So what they actually do is make the main orders from there and then see what is a hit. Then they buy the extra they need from plants in Portugal and places like that. Much closers, days of transport time and faster turnarounds. And yes, there have been several small factories set up in England to do this too recently.
For the mass market stuff it’s still the East: but for short runs or for high value items Britain is looking a better and better place these days.