The Future of British Manufacturing – Onshoring, Just a Trend Or Is There Really No Place Like Home?

A recent report by the UK Government has identified an increasing trend for British Manufacturing, in particular something called ‘onshoring’. This phenomenon, also ‘reshoring’, typically involves the repatriation of production from low-cost locations back to the UK, investment in on-shore production to enhance capability, and even deliberate sourcing of components from onshore rather than from overseas.

Why ‘Onshore’ Manufacturing?

Typically, manufacturing is brought back to the UK from overseas in response to changing labour costs, higher transport costs, product quality concerns, a need to be closer to the market, and the advantages of having R&D and production in the same place. Whilst there isn’t much evidence about the scale of this onshoring trend, the report suggests it will become increasingly possible for the UK to compete with lower-cost locations when it comes to quality, delivery speed and even the customisation of products.

Who is Onshoring?

John Lewis PLC
During 2013, the retailer announced a 2-year 15% growth target for all sales of UK-manufactured goods in its shops. In addition, it has increased its number of UK suppliers from 132 in 2007 to 207 in 2013.

Hornby PLC
In November 2012 Hornby decided to return production of 60% of its model paint brand Humbrol from China to the UK. This decision aimed to improve supply and ensure high quality standards were met from a more accessible location near their Margate head office.

Laxtons Ltd
This design-driven yarn manufacturer had offshored production, but it has now returned manufacturing to Yorkshire, resulting in reduced lead times, carbon footprint, and a greater control over quality and raw materials.


The Alliance Project echoes this trend for repatriation of textiles manufacturing. According to the report, retailers are looking closer to home in order to satisfy the ever-changing demands of consumers for shorter lead times (fast fashion) and UK made homeware. Growth is being driven by ‘micro-companies’, with 5000 new jobs in textile manufacturing being created in the UK in 2014 alone.

The iconic British shoe brand Dr Martens have recently re-deployed their manufacturing to the UK, with their Cobb’s Lane factory producing small runs and one-off designs, all bearing a coveted ‘Made in England’ label.

Here at The Great British Exchange we recognise the demand for a source of British producers that retailers can buy from, offering high quality products that can be restocked quickly to meet customer demand. At the same time, British producers need a secure, direct route via which they can sell their products.

We support onshoring and we champion the needs of British manufacturing.

If you want to support the big challenge of getting more British products to market, register with us now. We’ll keep you up to date with how The Great British Exchange can help grow your business in the run up to our launch later this year.

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