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UK Manufacturing is thriving and rapidly expanding

A survey of some of the UK’s promotional gift manufacturers has shown real optimism in the sector.

To gauge the health of manufacturing in the sector, the bpma has taken soundings from members of the recently formed Briman Group, made up of UK manufacturers, to get a view of the state of the market from the sharp end. All the businesses surveyed showed growth, ranging from a modest 1% through to an impressive 40%, with the sector averaging out at 11% overall.

The bpma survey showed that companies are investing heavily in a range of new technology and printing equipment. These include Orchard Melamine, which has expanded its capacity and has a new investment strategy planned for 2016.

B S Sanders has invested in new technology, in the form of computers and printers, and new machinery in the shape of moulding machines, while Coronation Rock has invested over £300k and is currently aiming to get BRC standard and SALSA in place.

Over the past 12 months, CHX has invested heavily in improving print quality, with the acquisition of a large flatbed digital printer. Great Central Plastics has a new tooling centre as well as a super-efficient electric  moulding machine, amounting to a total investment of £63K.

Meanwhile, First Editions has invested more than £500k in machinery alone in the past two years, most recently with a digital printer for water bottles and protein shakers. Badger Design has bought a flatbed digital machine and laser cutter, both machines for acrylic magnets which can be cut to any size or shape within A2.

WCMA has continued to develop their online personalised name badge ordering at www.badgenames.co.uk and has recently added an online version of its labelling software for reusable name badge and card holder inserts, complementing the free downloadable versions for PC and Mac at www.u-badge.co.uk.

“Both these IT solutions have been developed completely in-house, and have proved incredibly popular with distributors as they make life much easier,” said Simon Adam of WCMA. “For example, badgenames.co.uk has already processed well over 330,000 name badge orders for distributors, who know exactly what is going on with their customers’ orders but do not need to get bogged down in the administration.” The business launched two new end-user websites in January –
www.britishmadebadges.co.uk and www.britishmademerchandise.co.uk.

Last year also saw the acquisition by WCMA of a third routing machine for sheet metals and plastics with the latest model being camera controlled for increased precision.  On print equipment, they are about to purchase a fourth flatbed inkjet printer and are planning to purchase two more digital printers, as well as automated bagging equipment this year. 

Badges Ltd, trading as Enterprise Products, has invested in mill and lathe equipment to bring manufacturing back to the UK, and finds that customers increasingly ask for UK-made products. Foremost Magnets has purchased more than over £200k worth of plant in the last year. This includes a second digital press, a third and fourth laminator, a third platen press, a PUR binder and a saddle-stitcher.

SPS EU has invested around £115k in new tooling, including one for the launch of new products, and another to increase production capacity for the successful Americano Thermal mug. The company has also invested a further £60k at its Ultimate Promotional Paper Products business to increase print capacity to meet demand, while at the High Profile plastics manufacturing division, investment costs are also high due to its specialism in bespoke tooling.

Case Study: Great Central Plastics

Further proving that UK manufacturing can be quick, efficient and reliable, Great Central Plastic stepped in to help international company Flourish Marketing when it was let down by a supplier in China.

As an export order for Australia, Great Central Plastics were given the task of producing a small first aid box for pharmacies, working from a 3D fabricated model that Flourish provided.

The boxes were designed to contain EpiPens, used in case of an allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock, as well as swabs and antiseptic wipes. Along with large branding areas to display safety instructions, the boxes needed to be vibrant in colour, to ensure they are easy to find in emergency situations.

GCP’s tooling department created tools to produce the functional and durable product. The complex and multi-part assembly design of the product demonstrates the diversity of the company’s expertise.

Great Central Plastics will also be appearing in an upcoming documentary for the Discovery Channel.

The crew wanted to film tooling, moulding and printing, all on one site, with a focus on the use of recycled materials and products made from waste. The documentary will be shown later this year.

Trends

Orchard Melamine has seen a significant switch from Far East sourcing to demand for British Made goods. Simon Adam from WCMA commented: “Bespoke shapes are becoming more and more important, rather than decorated standard shapes/sizes, and many distributors have said that their customers are insisting on British-made. This is not only about lead times, but also about good quality and quantity orders as well.”

Tony Phillips from Great Central Plastics said: “We are still getting rush orders to replace faulty goods from the Far East.”

Orchard Melamine manufactures the BAFTA award ceremony tablemats each year, with different nominated films used. It is great to see a big organisation supporting British manufactured goods. Rumour has it actors are even seen scurrying away with a handful of mats under their arms after each ceremony has finished.

Last year CHX Products had the great opportunity to manufacture the Red Noses for Comic Relief. Andy Knight of CHX Products said: “The charity chose CHX Products because of the fact that we are a UK manufacturer, and using recycled plastic both of which were important to the brand and shows how important UK manufacturing is to the promotional industry.”

CHX produced a Christmas miracle for premiums provider Tomato Source, manufacturing 100,000 keyrings depicting characters from the new Star Wars fi lm in just a couple of weeks, for delivery in the first week of January. Tomato Source knew that only a UK manufacturer would be able to meet the incredibly tight deadline without compromising on quality or print reproduction.

Sophie Howes, director at Tomato Source, said: “CHX went beyond the call of duty, to ensure our goods were produced to spec and delivered on time as promised.”

There are clearly many more opportunities. If you are interested in joining the Briman group, and your UK manufacturing exceeds 50% of your total turnover, then please contact Mark Alderson of First Editions, 0121 706 7630, mark@firsteditionsltd.com.

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