Comment: UK firms should manufacture more for the home market

Posted on 9 Jan 2015 by Jonny Williamson

Figures on increased credit card spending and a trade gap of more than £5bn are signs that UK companies should produce more goods for the domestic market, says leading manufacturing boss Pamela Petty.

Pamela Petty, managing director of Ebac
Pamela Petty, managing director, Ebac.

Today’s trade figures, covering imports and exports in November 2014, show that the UK is a net importer, with the difference between imports and exports standing at £5.2bn, despite being a net exporter to non-EU countries, with a £1bn surplus.

The managing director of Ebac said the public’s desire to buy British goods should be harnessed to create jobs and wealth in the UK.

Petty stated: “The fact that spending on credit cards in the three months to Christmas was at its highest level since 2007, with banks and building societies predicting another rise in early 2015, shows the public’s appetite to spend is on the increase.

“Whether this is down to growing confidence or greater access to credit, it indicates a period of opportunity for those who make and sell goods for the consumer market.

“As today’s figures show we continue to import more than we export, in our relationship with other countries, particularly within the EU, it is time to acknowledge that the UK should be making more goods domestically.

“In terms of the economy, it is misguided to buy cheap from abroad, because we pay twice for the labour – once for the people who actually make the items and again in benefits payments to those who could be doing the job here.

“[Ebac has] seen a real appetite for domestically-manufactured goods, with the re-launch of the Norfrost freezer range and the demand for UK-made washing machines, which will soon be coming off our production lines. This demand has led to deals with Argos and Amazon to stock the chest freezers, while there is also significant interest from major retailers for the washing machines.

“The UK, particularly areas such as the North East, where we are based, was once known as a manufacturing powerhouse. We have the people and the knowhow to make things again; products which are as good as any on the market.

“The potential benefits of driving domestic manufacturing are many. It is good for the country, because it puts people into work; increases tax take, puts money into the pockets of those individuals it employs, which then gets fed into local communities, and it’s good for the environment, because it reduces the carbon footprint of transporting goods.”