Conflicting opinions on the health of UK manufacturing

Posted on 3 Sep 2012

Andrew Essom, sales manager for Rical Group, and his colleagues are tired of the mixed messages about UK manufacturing from statisticians and the press, and says the gloom doesn’t reflect his company’s experience in 2012.

Andrew Essom, Rical Group

Who was it who said “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”*? It has been interesting to hear the barrage of claims, counter claims, official figures, and official figure adjustments of late – and not to mention the euro crisis, housing crisis… the list goes on.

But “steady and holding tight”, it would seem, is the faithful but very often forgotten backbone of the UK economy that is manufacturing. Business has been difficult for the last decade or so, for manufacturing in the UK has been largely neglected.

During the big downturn in 2008 we lost a great deal of turnover. To be fair, for some this was a good opportunity to remove uneconomical, unproductive work, but for others the downturn would be catastrophic.

Those manufacturing companies that made it through the last downturn are now stronger and have had to become much leaner, fighting to become more and more competitive globally. This change in UK manufacturing competitiveness, along with the economic, environmental and social stability the UK offers, has now made it a real area of activity for global purchasers. Through technical, human and well thought-out investment, the UK has now become competitive again; the world wants to do business with us again.

One UK manufacturing group, with its roots based firmly in the West Midlands, which is seeing this renaissance in “UKMFG” (as the new social buzz word calls it) is the Rical Group. With its headquarters in Smethwick it offers services as diverse as metal pressings to aluminium and zinc die-castings

Rical Multiforms, based in Cradley Heath and part of the Rical Group, has seen a significant upturn in interest from UK manufacturers, as well as companies from as far afield as China and Eastern Europe showing an interest in what the Black Country firm has to offer. Multiforms manufactures a variety of metal components serving the electrical, automotive and building sectors and during August alone has had new work enquiries from more than 10 possible new customers amounting to a staggering 147 million components, ranging from metal pressings to wireform components.

Without doubt the reports I am hearing from customers [globally] is that the market is very volatile and it would appear that manufacturing as a whole is putting its faith back into UK companies. So it’s up to UKMFG to make the most of the opportunities that are available.

Other companies within this networked manufacturing group are also reporting strong enquiry and order books.

So sometimes it just pays to not take too much to heart regarding the ‘official statistics’, rather keep your head down and “Keep calm and carry on”.

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Andrew Essom recently joined Rical Group, a group of precision engineers and metalforming businesses in the West Midlands, as sales manager.

*the quote “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is frequently attributed to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, and was later popularised by US author Mark Twain.