John Pearce, CEO of Made in Britain, reflects on some unexpected positives of 2020 and looks ahead to how Britain’s manufacturers will weather the aftermath of the pandemic.
One of the silver linings of a challenging year full of uncertainty is that we have been forced into seeing what can be created on our shores. There has been a noticeable and rapid move away from a centralised to a more localised supply chain. One which serves to keep manufacturing as close to home as possible and keep the wheels of the economy turning.
We are lucky our industry has been for the most part ‘open for business’ during the year and in the process proven itself to be productive and resilient.
Made in Britain, a non-profit organisation which represents some 1,500 British manufacturing companies, 95% of whom are SMEs, has seen an 80% increase in accreditation requests since April 2020. Along with the registered Made in Britain mark, often used on packaging and in marketing, members receive peer-to-peer learning opportunities, a trading network, their own news service on our website and a British product directory for them to sell their wares here and abroad.
Made in Britain member Crest Pumps Ltd.
Members come to us to help them sell more with the use of our logo, and they also tell us they like to network with other like-minded British manufacturers. Our annual Buying British survey, compiled in August, told us that three-quarters of businesses are more likely to buy British goods than before the Coronavirus outbreak. Eight in 10 businesses and consumers would happily pay more for products made in this country, while two-fifths of consumers and two-thirds of businesses would prefer to buy British regardless of cost.
While quality and reliability has long been synonymous with British manufacturing, it has often been disregarded in favour of lower-cost foreign options. These alternatives, however, look less attractive now we have seen first-hand how quickly the global supply chain can be destabilised.
The economy needs to fundamentally assess low cost sourcing against the social-economic value of localised manufacture and we see this prompting a major shift over the coming years as Britain resets its relationship with the EU and the rest of the world.
In 2020, we also launched our members-only news service, where members can publish their own business wins and export sales updates on our website. We now publish 100 positive manufacturing stories per month. Reading this on a daily basis, I am so proud of the phenomenal effort some of our members have gone to to produce PPE in record time, and to continue to create products here given the new working restrictions they have had to put in place.
Air Control Industries, flying the flag for Made in Britain.
Buy British and support a greener economy
Looking ahead to what we’re offering in 2021, we are currently loading a unique product directory or ‘digital warehouse’ for members to create an easily searchable British product and business directory. Members can already post up to 25 products and link to a sales channel of their choice. This will be heavily promoted and is already visited by people looking for British-made products.
Over the coming months, we predict a serious uptick in green governance and procurement based on proven sustainability. Net zero won’t be enough to combat climate change by itself, but it’s fast becoming mainstream thinking across the manufacturing sectors, with resource scarcity and product longevity important factors. The lifetime cost of the purchase is what is being focused upon now which goes far beyond just the money.
“Two-fifths of consumers and two-thirds of businesses would prefer to buy British regardless of cost” John Pearce, CEO of Made in Britain
To complement our code of business conduct, in 2021 every member will be able to sign up to our Green Growth Programme. Designed for manufacturers and inspired by the UN’s global #SDG12, this will enable members to easily and accurately understand where their business is on its sustainable pathway, then signpost them to experts to help improve their standing on raw material resilience, circular business modelling and the regenerative economy.
The overall results will be made public and linked to our members’ directory pages, making it easier for everyone to choose goods that are local, greener and made by a business you can really trust. The definition of Made in Britain.
More information www.madeinbritain.org
The Made in Britain mark certifies members as trusted businesses that have met stringent criteria guaranteeing they are truly British.
John Pearce is CEO of Made in Britain
* All images courtesy of Made in Britain, Air Control Industries, and Crest Pumps Ltd