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UK manufacturers are on the march against the wave of recession and foreign imports

Since the downfall of the British economy, the focus of the government was on the financial sector. In fact, when all eyes were turned to the bankers, the rejuvenation has been in manufacturing, according to a report from PwC.

The document implies that UK-based production companies could be the root to rebalancing the UK’s shaky economy via quality engineering. Despite that ‘Made in Britain’ label becoming uncommon in the UK, the country’s manufacturers strike back with proactive strategies to conquer the market with reliable and locally produced goods.

According to the Observer in March 2012, China is destined to soon take the place of the world’s larger producer of manufactured goods, managing to overtake the USA for the first time in 110 years. The Chinese slowly but surely emerged as a world growing economy after joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001, quickly becoming one of the largest trading partners to the EU (European Central Bank, 2007). Since the start of this decade, this Asian economy has been growing its stock by an average of 7% each year and there is no doubt that it will proceed to do so in the future (Forbes, 2011).

In an era where imported goods are flooded to the UK in millions, the pressure for the British manufacturer to stay afloat is very high. As Chinese moguls tempt companies with what appear on the surface to be lucrative offers and high production capabilities, the question of real value comes to mind.

PwC points out that the strength of the UK manufacturer lies in focusing on key areas including ‘planning, supply chain, R&D, and customer focus.’ A proactive medium sized industrial base has not eroded so firms do not have to scour the world for components.
Rainford Solutions, an electronic equipment enclosure and cabinet maker based in St Helens, is a typical example of one of Britain's manufacturing success stories. The company has been serving its blue chip customer base for 30 years and implementing its profit growing strategies, particularly in the area of purchasing.

“The idea of a best value product is not necessarily constituted by the price. In order to obtain long term cost reduction we focus on sustainability and governance,” says the Purchasing Manager at Rainford Solutions.

The buyers will achieve value for money only on a whole life cost basis in terms of generating benefits for the organisation, economy, country and the society whilst minimising damage to the environment.

“Companies must ask themselves a question if they procure, purchase or just buy. This is particularly important in a recession when it is crucial for businesses like ours to present our clients with a strong, competitive offering,” states Philip Harris, Head of Business Development at Rainford Solutions.

As a result of the 2008 global recession, many companies were forced to stop sourcing collaboratively and decided to go for instant gratification in cost reduction. However, a good collaboration with local suppliers, often based on knowledge sharing, results in a quicker response and better control over orders. This strategy revised year-over-year decreases the overall product cost; thanks to which more resources can be directed into R&D; a service valued by customers and practised by bespoke product manufacturers.

The ability to understand the client’s needs and to transfer engineering capabilities into the development of suitable products is an important factor that will help companies to battle the recession and fight off foreign competition.

One of the biggest telecommunication companies in the UK has a successful partnership with Rainford Solutions and uses its engineering capability to develop cost, energy and space saving products. The portfolio of developed telecommunication enclosures supports the telephone and broadband networks all over the UK and requires appropriate protection against operating failures of electronic equipment. It is vital to secure uninterrupted operation and a reliable enclosure manufacturer will help achieve this goal with a well-engineered product.

The industrial heritage of the UK has left a spirit of entrepreneurship and companies like Rainford Solutions will continue to experience growth throughout a period of financial hardship for others. In fact, the company is already implementing new strategic approaches to multiple market sectors and will soon launch a standard product range developed on the back of their established expertise in the electronic equipment enclosure design.

"The businesses we looked at restructured, re-strategised, became agile and flexible and looked to emerging markets for future growth. The strategies were not only crucial for survival; they have proven to be sustainable. With revenues showing an average year-on-year growth of 9% and 16% in FY10 and FY11, and 2012 looking similarly positive, perhaps other sectors should be learning from their success,” comments Clive Penwarden, Industrial Manufacturing partner at PwC.

Thanks to the manufacturers’ recession-proof strategies, we will soon be able to spot more ‘Made in Britain’ labels on a number of well-engineered products.

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