Wales could be reshoring powerhouse says ex-Sony boss

Posted on 9 May 2014 by The Manufacturer

Sir Howard Stringer has called for more firms to fight to bring off-shored manufacturing back from China.

Sir Howard, formerly CEO of Sony which has a high performing plant in Wales, said the country is in a good position to compete with China for manufacturing.

He also said larger firms could benefit from embracing the more flexible, entrepreneurial qualities of smaller firms to become more competitive.

Sir Howard claimed it was these qualities which helped Sony’s Pencoed site win a contract to manufacture the bare bones computing sensation the Raspberry Pi. Previously it had been manufactured in China.

Proximity to the customer is a major benefit of reshoring said Sir Howard.

“It is a very long way from China,” he told BBC Wales this morning. “Everything moves so fast. The six or 10 weeks it takes to get the ship to the UK, your market could have changed.

“If you do your manufacturing in Wales at reasonable cost you have tremendous advantage on your competition in getting to the market so quickly.”

Sir Howard said that Sony’s Pencoed site had taken this on board and seen great results. Last year the site was the overall winner of the prestigious Best Factory Awards.

However, while Sir Howard advocates Wales as a reshoring location, firms looking to set up operations in Wales are being held back by lack of suitable sites according the a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors reports released last week.

The Welsh government has promised to invest in the development of industrial business parks like the Pencoed Technology Park where Sony is based. Last month the Welsh government committed £12.3m to create 60 acres of development land for the park. It also bought the former Hotpoint factory in north Wales for redevelopment.