Manufacturing focus: UK Point of Sale
It’s manufacturing focus week on Bdaily, and we’re looking at the debate around the UK sector. Bdaily put some questions to Jason Leslie, managing director at Chesire manufacturer, UK Point of Sale.
What are the UK’s biggest strengths in manufacturing?
The UK’s biggest strength in manufacturing is the benefits it offers its customers – yes, we have the skills needed, and we have started to match overseas manufacturing on price, but our main consideration needs to be our customers. By manufacturing in the UK we can off a faster turnaround time for our customers – we can be responsive and reactive to all our customers’ needs, whilst supporting the UK economy, which is really important to us.
Was Vince Cable right when he said we’re beginning to see a repatriation of the supply chain to Britain?
Yes, I believe he was right. In order to respond to our customers’ needs, we need to have products in stock and ready to go. If there was an issue with our supply chain and all our products were abroad, we would not be able to provide the best service for our customers, so we therefore source from within the UK as much as we can.
The automotive manufacturing industry is often held up as a totem of success - what is going to be the next big sector?
In 2012, the UK’s car industry consistently bucked the trend being set by the manufacturing industry, and it is difficult to choose another sector that will show as much growth in such a short period of time. I would say that one of the manufacturing industry’s key partners, the logistics industry, could be the next big sector. The logistics industry has an understanding of both manufacturing output and consumer spending, which allows it to pre-empt the success of trading periods and act as a barometer for the economic climate. Manufacturers which work closely with the logistics industry may find that they have a better understanding of the current market and what will happen in the months to come.
What challenges has your business faced, and how have you remained resilient?
As a business, the main challenges we have faced, especially over the past few years, have all been related to price. We are continually seeking the lowest material price to ensure we can keep the finished price as low as possible for our customers, and in our experience, it pays to buy raw material in bulk, so that we can maintain prices for longer.
Training and skills are fundamental to manufacturing. Are we pointing in the right direction?
The focus on apprenticeships, skills and training from the government at the moment is great and, as manufacturers, we very much welcome any new initiatives or schemes the government proposes in the future. But, as a growing company, we hope this focus continues to grow, as manufacturing will never be a part of the UK’s long-term economic growth if we don’t give the younger generation the skills they need to succeed in the sector. At a time when ‘Made in Britain’ means more to the consumer than ever, we would praise ministers for bringing more attention to the manufacturing industry, but there is always more that can be done.
What more could the Chancellor have done for manufacturing in his Budget?
It seems the Chancellor could have done more for manufacturing in the budget. As I have said, we believe the focus on apprenticeships needs to grow, and it is disappointing that the government has failed to introduce ring-fenced funding for apprenticeship schemes. If the government was to focus on apprentices and skills in manufacturing even more, it could have a positive impact on unemployment, especially for young people, so we would welcome even more support in this area in the future.