61% of UK manufacturing firms foreign owned

untitledNearly two thirds of UK manufacturing businesses that employ over 500 are now owned by foreign companies claims business minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe.

She went on to say that 320 manufacturing enterprises in the UK, with more than 500 employees, were now in a situation of having over 50% of their shares in foreign hands.

It is clear that foreign investors see the potential of British manufacturing, who are hoovering (or should I say Dyson-ing) up some of our most treasured brands. What is perhaps even sadder than the headline of this article is that in many cases these ‘Jonny-foreigners’ seem to actually do a better job that us at running them. Take for instance Jaguar Land Rover. Once failing under British ownership, JLR have seen production triple since under the ownership of the Indian’s.

Do these stats perhaps highlight another issues – that we might have lost the ability to run a business properly? Have we Brits lost our once envied entrepreneurial spirit? Whatever the reason it certainly must indicate that the system is broken somewhere!

What do you make of this news? Please comment below.

Will manufactures leave the UK if we Brexit?

BrexitOne of the chief arguments used by the pro-European Union lobby has been that in the situation that the UK leaves the EU then as many as one in then jobs will be lost, leaving our manufacturing sector decimated and our economy in tatters.  This is as many of 3.5 million jobs in total. But how likely is this apocalyptic future view to become a reality?

According to analysis published earlier this month, just eleven global engineering firms with sites in the UK provide Britain. This handful of firms provide around 90,000 of those jobs and, of course, support hundreds of thousands of secondary jobs. Thankfully, the CEOs of those eleven firms have each posted their colours to their respective masts in recent years. In turn they have all made a clear commitment to keeping their business within the UK even in the event that the British people opt to leave the EU, allocating millions of pounds of investment to plants in the UK.

Toyota, General Motors, BMW, Volkswagen, Airbus, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Honda, Geely and Ford have all stated  thier ongoing committment to UK manufacturing, whatever the result of the anticipated referendum.

With the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union looming, this apocalyptic view, presented by the pro-EU lobby seems to be becoming increasingly central to their arguments. However, given the facts of the matter it would seem that such an argument is unlikely to hold any weight. In short, if you’re worried about businesses and job creators leaving Britain after Brexit, don’t be. They won’t.


For those interested here is a summary of each of these large engineering firm’s positions:

• Toyota, the world’s largest car manufacturer, has announced it would remain in the UK following Brexit, the CEO Akio Toyoda told the Financial Times,“we want to deliver even better cars, so when that capsule is opened after 100 years, all can see we’ve built a truly British company.” Toyota employs 4,000 at its car plant in Burnaston and engine plant in North Wales.

• General Motors-owned Vauxhall/Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann has said, “We have plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port. We will not turn our backs on England, life would carry on. We would continue to find ways to invest.” An Opel plant in Germany closed last year while GM invested £185m in its UK van manufacturing facility. Vauxhall employs 4,500 people in its two plants, plus a further 23,000 in its retail and UK supply chain (not included in overall figures).

• BMW-owned Mini announced a £250m investment in 2012 at its three UK plants to increase production, having announced an additional £500m for the latest Mini only the year before. Mini employs 5,600 people in Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall, and is one of the UK’s most productive manufacturers in the UK.

• BMW-owned Rolls Royce Motor Cars has dismissed the idea of relocating outside the UK. BMW CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes told Reuters, “I’ve had lots of questions in my time in a way of why aren’t you opening up a plant somewhere else. I sad guys are you kidding me? This is so truly British that it belongs to Britain and it is also part of our success story that we are from Britain.” Rolls Royce directly employs more than 21,300 people in the UK, including over 12,000 at its Derby site, home to its Civil Aerospace and Submarine businesses as well as its car manufacturing business. Other key locations include Bristol, East Kilbride, Ansty, Barnoldswick, Inchinnan, Hucknall and Sunderland.

• Volkswagen-owned Bentley is committed to the UK. Board member for sales, Kevin Rose, has said, “We made our plans, we’ve announced the investments… and they were in full knowledge that there was a referendum so we believe in the UK” Bentley is the third largest automotive R&D investor in the UK, employing 3,600 people at its Pyms Lane site.

• Airbus has corrected claims it would cease investment in the UK. Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier said at the Paris Airshow he had “no intention” of pulling out in the event of Brexit. More than 4,000 people, including 2,000 engineers are employed at its Filton site.

• Jaguar Land Rover announced in March 2015 an investment of £600m in the west midlands including £400 for manufacturing the new Jaguar XF at Castle Bromwich and in September a further £120m in its Solihull plant – all despite the Brexit referendum being likely. Jaguar Land Rover, the country’s largest automotive business, has its headquarters in the UK and employs 25,000 of its 26,000 strong workforce within the UK, across five sites.

• Nissan announced in 2015 it would build its next generation Juke vehicle at its Sunderland plant in the UK, with £100m investment allocated. Nissan Chairman Paul Willcox said, “Nissan, obviously, is a global company. We export to over a hundred different countries from our production plant in Sunderland … the important point is not that referendum and the decision, whichever way that goes. Nissan had made a strong commitment to the UK so that won’t be pushed to one side, we have made that commitment, certainly beyond 2020.” Nissan employs a 6,700-strong workforce in Sunderland, many of whom are ex-miners and ship builders.

• Honda announced in 2015 a record £200m investment at Swindon – its only European factory – to produce a new five-door hatchback that would create a global manufacturing hub that would build a new five-door Civic. Honda employs around 3,400 people at its plant in Swindon
• Geely, the Chinese owner of the London Taxi Company has announced an investment of £250m to build a new Coventry plant creating 1,000 jobs to build a low-emission black cab.

• Ford announced in 2014 that it would invest £190m in Dagenham, and in 2015 a further £181m in its Bridgend engine manufacturing plant even though a Brexit referendum was on the cards. Ford employs 13,000 people in the UK.

Where have you been?

Pippin Sidney Bradshaw

Our new addition (image thanks to Dorrington Photography)

We have been getting a few emails recently asking where we have been for the last 4-5 weeks. We are normally quite good at getting a blog post up at least weekly but, it is true, we have had a brief hiatus. The reason for this was the birth of our 2nd son.

Pippin Sidney Bradshaw was born (made in Britain) in the 19th of December weighing in at a whooping 10lbs. As you can imagine this put our plans on hold and focused our attentions elsewhere. Things that we normally like to do over the festive period, like our regular British made Christmas gift guide and associated press stuff, were left by the wayside as we adjusted to this new addition to our family.

Now that the initial pressure of this event has, somewhat, passed we are ready to make our plans for 2016.

We have taken some stock of our efforts over the Christmas period and have decided that, with some regret, we cannot continue with the British Family Fayre into 2016. It was a tough decision, and while we anticipated the 4th year being the biggest and best yet, we simply cannot maintain the effort needed to put on such a huge event. Lincoln West, who have helped us with this event from the start and kindly donated their time for free to it’s organisation have been wonderful but agree that it is no longer tenable to continue. We will instead focus our efforts on developing Britipedia (still the largest business verified directory of British manufactures).

It also has to be said that our enthusiasm for courting the press has long since waned and as such we will not be doing anything with the press for the foreseeable future. It was a fun ride but the novelty of notoriety has worn off.

Some will see this as a general scaling back of our ‘backing British’ efforts. However, this year will see us make the transition from promoting British manufacturing to become a manufacturer ourselves. James has spent the last 6 months developing a range of leather goods and accessories, as well as business plans, branding and funding to launch a fully fledged British manufacturing business. It is anticipated the fruits of his labours will be in selected retail outlets by the end of this year. More information on this as we know more.

On the upside, we are committed to maintaining this blog and normal service will resume in that regard from henceforth. We have also long had ambitions to create more video content and so 2016 will, hopefully, be the year that the British Family hone their presenting skills.

Emily, James, Lucan and Pippin Bradshaw

Is James Bond the saviour of British manufacturing?

spectre1208141280jpg-398894_1280wEver since James Bond was sent on his first big screen mission in 1962’s Dr No, the most successful franchise in movie history has been a shop window for British manufacturing. Is Spectre, the latest incarnation of Ian Flemings infamous MI5 agent, going to continue to promote brand Britannia?

Bond famously has a weakness for British cars. Along side his famous Aston Martin  he has been spotted driving Landrovers (made in Coventry), a Lotus (made in Norfolk) as well as riding a Norton motorcycle (made in Leicestershire) and even at the helm of a Sunseeker Yacht (made in Hethel). In Spectre, Range Rover and Jaguar models once again line up alongside Bond’s trusty Aston.

But it is not just about the cars – Cumbria Crystal’s hand blow cut-crystal has been Daniel Craig’s whisky glass of choice thought his tenure as oo7 and is once again featured in the new film. And his tipple of choice? This is previously been Talisker whisky but apparently he has, in Spectre, now developed a taste for Macallan.

In addition, we are all aware of Bond as a well travelled gent but did you know that his luggage is made by British brand Globe-Trotter, from Hertfordshire, and that even his undies are British made, by Sunspel in Nottingham?

However, not everything about 007 is produced in the UK. Controversially, Bond has been sporting Omega watches in his last few outings. I would like to suggest that Bremont might be a better British alternative. And, mainly due to the films being produced by Sony pictures, he will continue to sport a Sony mobile phone in the latest film. Again, an alternative might be a phone produced by Vertu (Made in Hampshire). With their handsets starting at £5,000 a Virtue seems a little more his style anyway.

Lastly, James Bond has always been known as a dapper dresser and there are plenty of British made options for him to choose from. However, 007 tends to opt for Tom Ford suits, topped off with Tom Ford Sunglasses, which, while a British designer, I don’t believe makes any products in the UK.

So, our favourite not-so-secret-agent continues to fly the flag for Britain and what better advert could there be for the brilliance of British manufacturing?!

If you manage to spot anything else British made in the lasted James Bond movie please do let us know by commenting below.

No more British steel in a years time?

British Steel flotation 1988

British Steel flotation 1988

What a terrible few weeks for British steel manufacturing. The SSI Redcar plant has closed with a loss of 2,200 jobs, Tata Steel has announced 1,200 job losses at its plants in Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire and Caparo, based in Oldbury, has now bought in the administrators.  This issue is becoming so severe that as many as 1 in 6 British steel workers now face redundancy. Unions warn are warning that ‘there will be no British industry in a year’ if Caparo  is allowed to collapse. The knock on effects of these events could have a disastrous effects to UK industry as a whole.

Alarmingly the future of British steel seems to be at the mercy of the Chinese. The only realistic short term solution is for David Cameron and George Osborne to get on the phone to the Chinese president and plead for him to stop the devastating impact of ‘dumping’ huge amounts of cheap steel onto the international markets.

However, it might be suggested that China could greatly benefit from closing British Steel for good. Lets face it, in the short-term, HS2, Trident and the Hinckley power stations are likely to require a massive amount of steel over the coming years. If there is no domestic production guess where it will need to come from!? In a strange set of coincidences, the Chinese will likely win the contract for HS2 and will not only build but they will also own the Hinckley power station. I would also be willing to bet that as soon as British steel has been killed off the price of Chinese steel rockets… or am I just being cynical?

With thousands of families effected, and whole communities set to be decimated, the government’s recent ‘March of the Makers’ and ‘Northern Powerhouse’ initiates are starting to look a little meaningless. Certainly something more needs to be done. We have recently saved the bankers with an unprecedented bail out perhaps it is now time to save British steel? [But then David Cameron’s mates tend not to be steel workers, so don’t hold your breath].

Is British manufacturing taking a nose dive?

_85999756_proportion_of_gdp_624The last 10 years have been turbulent for British manufacturing. The sector grew gradually from 2005 to 2008, at which point it took a hit due to the global economic crisis. Recovery began again in 2010 and there was positive news of ‘green shoots’ until the beginning of 2012. However, there has been significant volatility since then. Most worryingly of all, the last 18 months have seen a terrific nose dive across most areas of UK manufacturing. Is this the end of the great British manufacturing resurgence we were promised?

Manufacturing currently accounts for just 10% of the output of the UK economy as a whole. If you look at the figures (right) you will see the full scale of the free fall in UK manufacturing since 1790 (where it accounted for around a third of GDP).

But what is considered to be the reason for the latest decline?

In recent years any growth in British manufacturing has, in reality, been more down to foreign investment rather than ‘proper’ domestic growth. Looking back, foreign investment was only ever going to be a brief plastering over the cracks. So, while politicians were last seen patting themselves on the backs and hailing themselves as saviours of British manufacturing what was actually happening was a lot more dangerous – basically selling the family silver.

Most recently there has been a big problem for foreign investors: the strength of sterling. A strong pound makes investing in the UK more expensive and it makes their products more expensive to export once they have been made. This has put the breaks on anticipated streams of foreign money to underpin the sector and shows the reality of the situation: Manufacturing is in dire-straits.

The headlines are doom and gloom at the moment. The only viable long-term solution is to help British owned manufacturing businesses do it on their own. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the focus of our current government who seem intent on selling everything at bargain prices.

But let’s try to end on a more up-beat note – let’s take a look at a breakdown of what we do still make:



Review: The Inhouse Stick and Store Squeegee

IMG_4070INHOUSE make a small but increasing range of handy home innovations which are are currently stocked exclusively in Lakeland stores. What is more, I am proud to say that all of their products now display our free to use made in Britain logo.

All of INHOUSE’s products are designed by owner Steve Britton-Williams, who, it must be said, is big supporter of  British manufacturing. Once every few months James gets a call from Steve and the two of them spend a good deal of time setting the world to rights. Steve has been promising to send us some samples for about 2 years and recently came good. He provided us with his redesigned squeegee and some of his ingenious stick and store shower pads to review.

The shower pads attach to any bottle then you can stick that bottle to any non-porous surface, like a tiled wall or glass screen. The idea is that it not only clears your shower tray of shampoo bottles (a significant issue in our house) but allows you to hang them upside down in order to get the last of the content out easily. Basically, it is one of those products that you never knew you needed until you use it.  For £2.99 each they are a pretty well priced too. Check them out here>>>

The focus of this review is the squeegee. It looks like many others that you might have seen, or have used, but with one distinct difference. The INHOUSE squeegee has little suckers on the front which allows it to be conveniently stored on (again) any tiled or glass surface.

I imagine that there is little difference from how effectively one squeegee works to another. The concept is pretty simple – a rubber blade attached to a handle (Steve might disagree). So, then we need to look at what sets this one apart. It does looks really smart and feels rather nice in the hand but again this is perhaps no different to other similar products at a similar price point. The real sell for this device is the ability to store it utilising the suckers. So how well do they work?

We have tested the squeegee (and the stick pads) over the course of the last 6 weeks or so. The power of the suckers, we found, lasts reliably for about 3 days on tile and little longer on glass. It has to be mentioned though that you need to read the instructions for achieving a lasting stick. We found that we ended up using the squeegee after every shower, in order to prevent a build up of lime scale on our glass shower screen, so this is where we stored ours. This regular use has meant that there have been very few occasions where it has not remained in position when we have come to use it again.

In terms of price the INHOUSE is about middle of the range in Lakeland, where Squeegee’s start from  £3 and go up to  £15. So, in terms of price I do not think that it is too bad at all.

The INHOUSE Squeegee: It does the job a squeegee should and it does it at a fair price but has one innovation no other has. It is also, let’s not forget, made in Britain. So, I see no reason you would buy any other Squeegee to fulfil your squeegeeing needs. You can get your hands on one here>>>

We always say this but it is actually finding the mundane everyday items that are made in Britain that really excites us. Finding things that you would expect to be made in the Far East but, generally for reason of the manufactures passion and commitment to quality, are made here. The INHOUSE Squeegee is one shining example of this.

– Emily

Note: You know when you use a word so much that it loses all meaning and begins sounding alien to you?… Squeegee!

Editor's Rating
Value for Money
Total British Family Rating68/100

Celebrating 36 years of the British Built Vauxhall Astra

The Vauhall Astra might not be as glamorous some British built cars, namely those produced by Jaguar, Morgan or Bentley, but it is perhaps no less a British icon. This year the lowly Astra, the car of the people, is celebrating an important milestone – the launch of it’s 7th incarnation. In real terms this means more than 36 years of continuous production in UK and that must be worth celebrating. At least, that is what Vauxhall thought…. so they made this rather inspiring video:

This new Astra is the 11th major model-line to be built at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and guarantees 2,000 jobs at the plant over the next decade. The plant secured a long-term contract in 2012 and a £140m investment which further demonstrates the brand’s continued commitment to manufacturing the car in Britain.  It is estimated that at full production in 2016, the plant will build around 680 Astras per day with further growth in subsequent years.

The British success story extends beyond the Astra itself – as for more than half a century, Ellesmere Port has been the manufacturing home of every compact class Vauxhall in the UK. With nearly 25% of parts sourced locally from UK suppliers, the plant is a significant contributor the local economy and the continued investment at the facility is set to boost UK manufacturing, utilities, construction, transportation and storage companies by at least £70m.

10,000 visitors attracted to the British Family Fayre 2015

20150919_095649This is just a quick post to thank those that supported the new format British Family Fayre for a 3rd successful year. This time we attracted over 10,000 visitors for, what became 2 glorious days of celebrating British manufacturing.

I will admit that we were very nervous of the new format.  Moving it from our home town of Westerham to Chatham Dockyard and spreading it over 2 days instead of one were big risks. In reality, it was going to me a make or break event for us and I am very pleased to announce that, with the help of Lincoln West, we pulled it off yet again.

Getting businesses to buy into the event is always the hardest part. Convincing businesses that it is worth their time trekking down (or up) to the wilds of Kent is no mean feat. Even with each year being more successful than the last, it is a real struggle and sometimes it makes us feel like throwing in the towel. It feels like if we did it in London we would get far more support from business but we know that we would get nowhere near the number of visitors. However, once we have spent the day celebrating and spreading the ‘buy British’ message to thousands of happy families it all seems worth while.

So, what about next year? We have not spoken to our events company about this yet but we will go out on a limb and say that, yes, there will be a forth year. We will see you in 2016!

– James & Emily Bradshaw

NOTE: We are just producing a video blog of the event and compiling more photos. We will post them shortly.

From Sunday Telegraph 13/9/15: The British Family’s guide to buying British

20150913_193343We were interviewed for part of a feature about one journalists efforts to buy British for a week in last Sundays Telegraph. For those that bought the paper there was actually a far larger article and a buying British quiz in the online version (We only got 9 our of 11 in the quiz). Anyway, we were asked to provide a brief bullet point guide to buying British…. so here it is:


Unlike in the 1950s and 1960s, there are very few British toy manufacturers around anymore. One of the few you are likely to find on the high street is Orchard Toys, which makes a wide range of fun and educational games and puzzles. There’s also Merrythought, which makes high quality teddy bears in the UK.

English wine

Once derided, English wine is now cool. Many of our own vineyards are producing wines of a world beating standard, especially some of the sparkling wines. From large producers like Denbies to smaller makers like The Squerryes Estate, there are many fantastic bottles on offer.

GB Sauce

It might surprise many that HP sauce is made in Holland but do not despair. New kids on the block, GB Sauce, make their whole range in the UK… plus they all taste fantastic.

Rapeseed oil

Unlike olive oil, it is easy to buy British produced rapeseed oil in all of the major supermarkets. Brands like Farrington and Hill Farm can be found quite easily and add a distinctly nutty flavour to meals.

Fake Britannia

Don’t be fooled by the Union flag on products. This does not mean that it is made in Britain. Look for the specific words “Made in Britain” or even our own made in Britain logo which is now used by more than 700 British manufacturers.

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