For those of us who live and breathe British business, keeping up to date with the news surrounding manufacturing in the UK is very important. However, after this past year, we firmly believe that staying informed is equally as important for the everyday Brit. That’s why we decided to start our very own Great British Business Update series.
The pandemic, Brexit, and the recent legislation proposals around climate change have forced entire industries to reevaluate how they operate and where to invest.
It goes without saying that the pandemic in particular raised a whole host of obstacles for businesses operating in the UK and these hurdles have left the manufacturing landscape forever changed. Major shortages and disruptions in supply chains and nosedives in the demand for specific services saw once-thriving sectors, such as the aviation and automotive industries, suffer greatly. These fundamental changes have led many business investors and manufacturers to shift their focus onto smaller and more local factories.
Similarly, Brexit has also been a cause for concern for many manufacturers who have previously focused on global production and trading. That said, it appears that the dust of Brexit is finally settling and investors are growing more confident in their negotiations outside of the UK.
Finally, the drive for green energy in the UK has also resulted in a greater emphasis on UK production and growing British factories. More so than other European countries, the UK’s proposed green targets are particularly ambitious. And with the UK government vowing to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, a significant opportunity has arisen in the electric vehicle and energy sector for UK manufacturers.
It seems that despite the great many obstacles Britain has faced over the recent years, there is hope that many positive steps are being taken to help boost our local economies and create employment opportunities.
So without further ado, here are some of the biggest British manufacturing updates from the past two months.
Vauxhall & Stellantis:
Having been the production site of Vauxhall vehicles since 1964, the Ellesmere Port factory in Cheshire has undergone a series of changes over the recent years.
Owned by multinational automotive firm, Stellantis, the factory was initially hit hard with job cuts in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, as the corporation was left uncertain about the future of UK manufacturing. The talks of the plant shutting for good amid Brexit fears left many worried about the potential thousands of workers that would be out of a job as well as the impact this closure would have on the local economy.
However, it seems that Stellantis’ recent decision to invest in electric vehicles may give the factory the boost it needs to survive. The Vauxhall Astra factory is set to receive an investment of up £100 million to build commercial electric vehicles. This investment will secure over 1000 new jobs as well as making this site the first Stellantis plant to produce solely battery-powered electric vehicles for Vauxhall, Opel, Peugeot and Citroën.
Similarly to Vauxhall/Stellantis, Nissan also has wide-reaching plans to comply with the UK’s proposal to halt the production of non-electrical vehicles by 2030, investing a whopping £1 billion into their Sunderland plant.
The Japanese carmaker has recently unveiled their new eco-initiative, dubbed ‘EV36Zero’, which plans to invest a great deal into transforming their plant into not just a production site for electric vehicles but also an electric car battery gigafactory.
This could very well help quell certain anxieties about the UK relying on external battery suppliers, especially in the post-Brexit landscape, as the plant will become the world's first-ever EV manufacturing ecosystem.
Not only could this be greatly beneficial across Britain, but this project is predicted to create around 6200 jobs, both locally on the Sunderland site and across the supply chain.
In 2012, it was announced that the factory was to close, resulting in the loss of thousands of British jobs. But with current talks of MS-RT (the automotive engineering company currently partnered with Ford) investing £4 million into the factory, it seems that Ford Dagenham will become an operating vehicle production plant once again.
This investment will further strengthen the business relationship between the two car companies, as well as boosting a facility that has been used predominantly for engine building. However, over the last year, the plant was used to produce medical ventilators for the NHS due to Ford’s involvement with the Ventilator Challenge UK.
The new facility will provide work for up to 120 employees by the time the site becomes fully operational in 2022, hopefully boosting the local economy and helping with the regeneration of one of the UK’s most deprived areas.
With the outbreak of Covid-19 over this past year or so, the world was forced to undertake massive changes to help prevent further spreading of the virus and protect lives. Some of these changes are likely to stay ingrained into our everyday routines. It, therefore, makes sense that the world of post-Covid services is an industry that harbours great potential for growth.
One such company that is taking huge strides in helping Britain adapt to our new post-Covid reality is UtterBerry, a start-up technology firm founded by Leeds local Heba Bevan OBE. Formerly, UtterBerry has focused on creating AI sensor technology used to monitor the development of several major national infrastructure projects, including London’s Crossrail, the Underground, and the Thames Tideway.
Now, however, the tech company plans to build easy to use Covid-19 symptom scanners, which can be used nationwide by establishments and workplaces to create a quick risk profile of individuals entering the premises.
UtterBerry’s recent move to the centre of Leeds is estimated to create up to 800 new jobs in the Northern city by autumn. Better yet, UtterBerry intends on recruiting workers who suffered unemployment due to the pandemic!
SeAH Wind & Smulders Projects UK:
Offshore wind manufacturers SeAH Wind and Smulders Projects UK are both set to receive major funding from the £160 million Offshore Wind Manufacturing Investment Support scheme.
This investment is not only a positive step in making Britain a cleaner nation, but it will also create up to 750 direct jobs on the Humber by 2030 and up to 325 more jobs in Wallsend and Newcastle.
The UK food industry has always been strong. But with Brexit making trading food goods a little trickier than it was, many Brits have been left nervous about whether or not our food manufacturers were going to suffer from a lack of investment from overseas.
Fortunately, however, US food condiment company and creators of one of the UK’s most cherished breakfast sides, Kraft Heinz, is set to invest $199m (£140m) in a food manufacturing facility in the northwest of England!
This move from across the pond will see the masters of the Baked Bean fund the growth of the Wigan-based Kitt Green plant over the next four years.
The Kitt Green plant is already Europe’s largest food manufacturing site, making up to 1.3 billion cans of food per year. However, investment by Heinz will see significant growth in the area, providing countless jobs and a boost to the local economy.
Whilst the plan is still subject to approval, this investment is a hugely positive step for Britain, as it is the biggest investment an external firm has made in UK manufacturing since Brexit. This vote of confidence from a major US manufacturer will hopefully see other firms warm to the idea of investing in UK manufacturing post-Brexit.
Well, that concludes our June/July edition of our Great British Manufacturing Update. Whilst it will take some time to totally recover from the 10% drop in output that British industries have suffered due to the pandemic, UK manufacturers are gaining momentum in their recovery.
Additionally, it’s safe to say that we’ve seen a series of positive developments in the British manufacturing and business landscape over these last two months. Hopefully, with the ever-easing lockdown restrictions and the increasing clarity around Brexit, this progression will keep coming.
We look forward to bringing you more news on the ever-growing manufacturing landscape in Britain.
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