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UK firms 'would bring manufacturing home'

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Posted on 13/08/2013 by Wayne Brophy FCILT

The majority of British companies would we willing to consider bringing manufacturing back to the UK if the right market conditions were in place, a survey has found.

Research by Versapak found that of more than 1,000 businesses asked, two out of three said they would bring production back to Britain or the EU if the business environment was right.

Indeed, nearly four out of ten who were considering such a move said they were currently in talks to relocate closer to home, as it emerged that many firms are losing faith in the reliability of suppliers further afield.

Specifically, China and the Far East were causing real concern. Among the top five problems faced by businesses trying to work with suppliers in the region, communication difficulties topped the list. Indeed, nearly half of all firms cited this as a concern. A similar proportion of firms pointed to the long-running problem of rising prices, which is robbing the region of its competitive edge.

But buyers also had their worries about the processes and requirements set out by Chinese manufacturers. Two out of five companies counted long lead times between ordering and receiving the finished product as one of their biggest concerns. And it seems buyers are worried that they are waiting longer for an inferior standard of goods, with poor quality of production cited by 35 per cent of firms. Crucially, buyers are also concerned about spending money on more products than necessary, with large minimum orders quantities mentioned by 32 per cent.

“It seems that the winds of change are now blowing more favourably towards UK shores and that the thought process towards UK based manufacturing could be shifting,” says Leon Edwards, Versapak group managing director. He adds that cheap production costs used to attract British companies to Chinese manufacturers, but he has seen evidence of changes in the business landscape.

“From a personal point of view, I’ve had many discussions with business prospects about the challenges of Chinese production, the majority of which are evidenced in the results of our study,” says Mr Edwards.

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