Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business

UK Manufacturing has the Antidote to Relentless Bad News Stories

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Martyn Ingram is the Group Director of Morgan GRP, the parent company of Llandybie-based Morgan Marine and Swansea-based Envico Engineering.

Morgan Marine is a leading manufacturer of security housings, enclosures and products designed to protect Critical National Infrastructure in the utilities, construction, nuclear, rail and renewables sectors – as a group of companies, between 80 and 90 percent of the power distributed in mainland UK has passed through one of their enclosures.

Here, Martyn talks about the dangers of Britain talking itself into a slump – and how the public perception of the UK’s output, buoyancy and stability would be far more positive, and more accurate, if they could be persuaded to tune into the legion of good news stories unfolding within manufacturing and engineering.

He says:

If you are in the habit of spending time on social media, tuning in to the evening news, or reading a national newspaper, you might be forgiven for thinking Britain’s economy, productivity and prospects are on their last legs.

While we are living in challenging times, has there ever been an era when it has been a simple task to balance the British economy, the needs of a growing and diverse populace, and the many and various other global market forces that exert their unique pressures on our balance-sheets?

There are issues within our economy and on the Brexit horizon that are, of course, exercising political minds and the minds of economists, and these are being thrashed out in a very public, and, I feel, in quite a hysterical fashion.

However, I would encourage anyone who is in hankering after a weekly shot of good news to look at UK manufacturing.

Just a cursory glance at The Manufacturer, Zenoot, Business Weekly or The Engineer will offer up several great news stories a day, of manufacturers investing in new premises, of big names reshoring to Britain and creating scores of jobs, of lucrative contract wins for British manufacturers.

He continues:

I’m not bashing the mainstream media. By its nature, this sectiosigned, equipped, or encouraged to offer too much nuance or detail around economic complexities, particularly in this age of the easily-digestable, swiftly swipable, soundbite.

And those of us in manufacturing have a responsibility to broadcast our own success stories far and wide, to offer what TV journalists like to call ‘a counter-narrative.’

Here are some of my favourite good news stories from the past few weeks alone, which shed light on the health of the British economy:

  • Spanish train manufacturer (CAF) has announced plans to create 300 new skilled jobs at a new factory at the former Llanwern steelworks site in Newport where it will build trains and trams for the UK network. The development is expected to secure thousands of supply chain jobs too. http://bit.ly/2tOV8lN
  • BAE Systems has won a £3.7bn Type 26 Frigate contract to secure 3,700 jobs for shipbuilders in Glasgow and across the maritime supply chain http://bit.ly/2sioCqQ
  • Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has announced a £39 million investment to triple storage capacity at its Greater London facility, to be operational in 2018. http://bit.ly/2sq62Rs
  • Comfy footwear giant Clarks is opening a new manufacturing unit at its headquarters in Somerset, creating up to 80 jobs. The facility will have the capacity to produce 300,000 pairs of the iconic Desert Boot, creating of up to 80 technical and managerial jobs in the village where Clarks first began shoe manufacturing nearly 200 years ago. http://bit.ly/2sxMvyF
  •  Alstom has opened Britain’s largest train modernisation facility, in Widnes, covering over 13,000 square metres. Work is set to begin on delivering the €28m contract to repaint the fleet of Class 390 tilting Pendolino trains used by Virgin on its West Coast Main Line. http://bit.ly/2sWbdav

From our own standpoint at Morgan Marine, our turnover continues to enjoy an upward trajectory – our projected turnover is £28 million. We have, in recent months, invested £1 million in our new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, which is set to revolutionise the way our company works. So we are pleased to have our own good news to shout about.

Of course, there are stories, figures and opinions out there which cast a less positive light on the current economic situation for Britain, and many of these may be valid. But I sense a real determination to talk the country into a slump which feels, to me, enervating and dangerous.