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‘Brand Britain’: How UK manufacturing is bouncing back

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic may have resulted in the UK’s manufacturing sector taking a knock. However, forecasts suggest that by the end of 2022 the sector’s output value is on track to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Part of the vibrancy and strength of manufacturing in the UK is owed to ‘Brand Britain’ – essentially British and ‘Made in Britain’ labels that represent everything from quality and innovation to durability and luxury.

The hard-won reputation of ‘Brand Britain’ has not been tarnished by recent events, namely the global pandemic, the EU referendum in 2016, and the UK’s subsequent departure from the European Union.

Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation committed to championing and celebrating British manufacturing and manufacturers, shines light on the manufacturing sector’s latest statistics and facts.

Make UK’s latest annual analysis paints an impressive picture of British manufacturing in 2022. The research shows that with an annual output of £183bn, the UK remains the ninth largest manufacturing nation in the world.

The research shows that the UK exports globally, with the top countries being the United States (£43.2bn), Germany (£32.4bn), the Republic of Ireland (£21.6bn) and the Netherlands (£19.7bn). Compared to other countries, Britain was found to be tenth for the export of goods, fifth for the import of goods and second in service trade.

A booming manufacturing jobs market

The ‘UK Manufacturing The Facts: 2022’ report shows how the industry has been performing in relation to the jobs market. The data shows that 2.5 million jobs have been provided by UK manufacturing, which pay an average 12% higher wages that the whole economy.

The UK automotive industry plays a vital role in the UK economy and is at the heart of the nation’s manufacturing sector and its resilience.

Whilst the pandemic and it supply chain disruption has inevitably taken its toll on car manufacturing, carmakers have worked hard to create safe spaces for employees and the public and rebuild confidence.

Improving the customer experience

Part of the ‘bounce back’ of the industry can be owed to carmakers’ focus on improving the customer experience and innovating through the digitalisation of processes.

One example of this customer first focus is Volkswagen Financial Services, which have been committed to prioritising customers as a means of rebounding strongly as the economy began to reopen as restrictions started to be eased.

As Mike Todd, CEO of Volkswagen Financial Services, writes for Highways Today:

“Over the past 18 months we’ve enhanced our online self-serve capability, giving our customers access to services that support them with managing their finance at a convenient time for them; for example, amending all personal and financial details, requesting documentation and the ability to make payments online.

“As all businesses have had to plan and implement new processes to react to unprecedented times, we too have continued in our commitment to evolve our support for customers, brands and retailers with fresh thinking, product innovation and an understanding of the challenges and issues each are facing.

“We pledge that as the impact of the pandemic begins to subside, the core customer-centric values that drive our business will remain and only get stronger.”

The challenges manufacturers have faced in recent years have been significant and disruptive. But despite this, UK manufacturing has not only survived what has been thrown at it in recent years but is flourishing – a far cry from an industry that is dead, or in terminal decline.

To sustain growth, it is important that manufacturers adapt to a changing landscape and continue to embrace the right technology, workforce and mindset to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage.

Phill Machell

Phill Machell, former Executive Director at Michael Page Interim, has been appointed as Partner at Bailey Montagu, one of the UK’s most innovative and respected executive search and interim management firms.