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Do consumers want to buy more British-made products?

There’s a growing demand to buy British, but consumers don’t know where to find British-made products, according to new research. Our guest author and founder of campaign group Make it British explains more… 

Between January and April this year, we asked over 1,000 people if they would be willing to pay more for British-made products compared to buying a similar product made outside the UK. The response was staggering.

Just over 90% of shoppers said they would be willing to pay more for British-made goods. This study, the biggest of its kind, shows that there’s a growing desire among Brits to buy locally – fuelled, perhaps, by the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Our research revealed that since Brexit, half of all shoppers are trying to buy more British-made products. And that people think products made in the UK are better quality and worth paying more for: 77% said that if they knew a product was made in Britain, they would believe it to be of good quality.

Brand Britannia

British-made stands for quality and shoppers are willing to pay more for a product they can trust. But it’s often impossible for them to find out if a product is made in Britain. It’s often easier with food, where Red Tractor and British meat labeling helps customers understand where a product has come from. But the same isn’t true for other products, such as clothes.

Brands could play a more active role in effectively marketing their products as British. Information needs to be clear, visible and easily accessible, both in store and online. Shoppers have the option to filter online by attributes such as price, brand or colour. Similarly, retailers should give e-commerce consumers the ability to filter for products made in Britain.

UK manufacturers could help themselves, too, by being more visible to consumers. Take Johnstons of Elgin, for example. It is one of the oldest textile manufacturers in the UK and has been making fine woollen cloth, knitwear and accessories in Scotland since 1797.

It has an open-door policy, which means that you can visit its factory to see where your jumper is being knitted. We could do with more UK manufacturers following Johnstons of Elgin’s lead.

Manufacturing is thriving

Many people are unaware that Britain still has a thriving manufacturing base. Last year, for example, over £2 billion worth of textiles was produced in the UK. And through setting up Make it British in 2011, I’ve met countless success stories.

Take Tiffany Rose. This British maternity wear brand was launched by mum-of-two, Tiffany London, in 2003, and has just won the Queen’s Award for International Trade for the second time in five years.

From humble beginnings – a kitchen table in Tiffany’s south London apartment and access to just £600 on a credit card – the business now turns over £3.1m and operates from its head office in Surrey. From here, orders are shipped to 120 countries and over 100 boutiques.

And on 23 and 24 May, our Make It British Live! trade show at the Truman Brewery, London will exclusively showcase over 200 British manufacturers and producers such asTiffany Rose. British producers are thriving – but more can and should be done to support them.

Would you pay more for British made goods (vote in our poll below)? Does ‘made in Britain’ signify quality? And does Brexit encourage you to buy British?

This is a guest article by Kate Hills. All views expressed here are Kate’s own and not necessarily also shared by Which?

Would you pay a bit more for a product if it were made in Britain?

Yes (83%, 44 Votes)

No (17%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 53

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Duncan, I think MT herself would have counted as an industrial chemist or a chemical engineer. In common with many other Tories at that time, I think she believed that industries must stand up by themselves and that propping up lame ducks was a poor use of public funds.

As a young engineer during MT’s reign, I was recruited by a company on Tyneside, so I moved “oop north” to work there. During this time, many local heavy industries, not least shipyards and collieries were going to the wall there, but Nissan were setting up their new car factory at Sunderland. There was relatively high local unemployment, e.g. compared to more prosperous Worcester, and yet the company had to recruit “a daft southern jessie” to fill the post that I took up.

I think a lot of our old industries went out of business because they (and the communities around them) failed to be forward looking, and assumed that their businesses would continue unchanged forever, safely isolated from anything else that might have been going on in the world, including the industrialization of the tiger economies and so forth. So I don’t think it is fair to blame MT’s and previously governments for letting that happen.

However, with 20/20 hindsight, it is possible to say that education could a have focused more on the needs of future industries as opposed to existing ones.

In common with other areas, we certainly suffered the scandal of some companies using engineering apprentices as cheap labor, only to finish them once they had served their time and then hire in more fresh apprentices. Practices like that did tend to turn folk away from wanting to work in factories.

Kate Hills says:
28 April 2018

Thanks Duncan. Great to have your support!

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But are those to whom you give loyalty also loyal in return, Duncan?

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I think it’s very instructive to look at the approach to quality which the Japanese brought to UK industry.
Traditional British manufacturing was dominated by a control hierarchy of workers, overseers, and managers with little practical or respect for the knowledge on the shop floor.
Poor design and manufacturing practices meant that fitting and fettling were considered normal to get it assembled.
The Japanese encouraged constant small changes to drive out “Muda” or waste and non value from the system.
We desperate need to keep exchanging ideas with other cultures so that we constantly question if we can do better.
British is best is a dangerous and arrogant route to complacency.

Totally agree. I believe their approach to the car and motor cycle industry – particularly with regard to manufacturing precision and continuous improvement for example – taught us all a lesson.

I believe we suffered from resistance to change on the shop floor, separation of management and worker disciplines, and, maybe as a consequence, lack of investment. I well remember one of our factory’s labour rules required 2 people to handle a piece of steel sheet when forming in a brake press. One person could have done it quite easily and safely – and most other factories did. Not surprisingly the factory was uncompetitive and closed. Who won that stand-off?

It was not all good. I had a Japanese motorcycle in the early 70s and the standard of the paintwork was so poor that there was bare steel underneath the rear mudguard. I painted it but many of these bikes rusted away rather quickly. The early Datsun cars were ‘rotboxes’ too. In both cases the engines were very good. At least the Japanese went on to make cars and bikes better suited for the British weather.

By the late 1970s, the British motorcycle industry was almost gone, mostly killed off by its own lack of innovation and investment, but the greater functionality and reliability of bikes from Japanese (and other) competitors also played its part.

At uni, we had a good mixture of ages and countries of origin in the bikes owned by the members of our motorcycle club, so I got to learn what was cheap and reliable and what wasn’t.

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Duncan, I don’t think the 59 club was ever a uni club.

For the record, I was in CUMCC. I was co-opted onto its committee, because, having spent ill gotten gains on a brand new Yamaha, that meant there would be at least one reliable bike to be available for every club rideout.

Up to that point, there had more-or-less been an unwritten rule that only the owners of British bikes would be invited to sit on the committee. However the challenges of trying to keep aging or exotic British bikes running reliably turned out to be too difficult for most of us to manage, i.e. with only the backing of typical student incomes and resources.

By the end of my time with that club, our modal bike was probably the MZ 250 and our more enthusiastic members toured all over Europe on them.

We need the government to start protecting British businesses. Stop them falling into foreign ownership or the hands of private equity asset-stripping vultures. Stop them being loaded with debt so the vultures have the funds to destroy yet another business. Stop takeovers that are nothing more than shutting down the competition. They nearly all result in closure and loss of jobs often for the people who need them the most.

I have been looking for new every-day china. Most of my every-day china was bought in British Home Stores as they always had reasonable quality, prices and designs I liked.

I bought a couple of Royal Worcester plates – made in India.

I saw a design I liked in a restaurant, looked on the bottom of the plate and it said Pearl, Premium Porcelain, England. Great I thought, but I can’t find any company in the UK with that name making china!!!

I used to go to school next door to the Royal Worcester factory. Sometimes, I used to play chess with John Sandon, now of Antiques Roadshow fame; he usually beat me. Even back then, he and his father were keen experts in antique ceramics in general and Royal Worcester in particular. Later on, I knew loads of folk who worked there – they seemed to be regarded as a good enough place to work, if you had the right manual skills.

These days there’s not much Royal Worcester of on that site, except a museum and shop. The surrounding former industrial landscape is now mostly posh flats.

That is such a great point about the plates Alfa.
We still make some great pottery in Stoke on Trent but yet the Government doesn’t even buy it to use in the Houses of Parliament! Something that caused a storm recently when an MP from Stoke pointed it out
I wrote about that here https://makeitbritish.co.uk/buying-british/uk-government-buying-british/

Personally, I don’t want to pay a lot more just because something has been made in the UK.

I also think we need to be careful what we expect government to do.

Kate has cited a number of model companies above, including some that export much of their produce. I’m all in favor of UK companies being competitive in world markets. I think government may be able to play an enabling role there, but it should not attempt to prop up “lame ducks” as may have happened in the past.

Under appropriate circumstances, we should also welcome foreign investment and the employment of foreign nationals in our industries.

One of the reasons that we rejected British goods is that they were poorly made or overpriced. I well remember my first car. 🙁

I support what Derek has said because we need a practical rather than sentimental approach. I think there is plenty of opportunity for Britain to design high quality products, even if they are made elsewhere. When China and other countries face up to the need to provide their workforce with safe working conditions and polluting their environment with chemical waste associated with manufacturing, the days of very cheap products could be numbered.

As happened in the UK.
What saddens me is when we have a company with a seemingly very innovative and talented research, design and development group in the UK that then manufactures its products in the Far East and sells them back here at an inflated price. And we reward the owner with a knighthood.

I presume you are referring to James Dyson. At least the UK did benefit from when manufacturing was in the UK.

The problem is that companies are there to produce dividends for their shareholders, not serve the needs of the citizens of this country. Until we wake up to what is happening and take action to share the benefits, the rich will get richer and the poor poorer.

I agree Derek. You shouldn’t pay more JUST because it is made in Britain, obviously quality and design need to be factored in too. But because people associate a made in Britain label with a quality product I think that they are willing to pay more because they hope that they foresee that the product will last longer.

We should also welcome foreign investment and workers too, without a doubt. Please don’t think that I am being all protectionist as that is not what this is all about.
I certainly think there are some products that are better made overseas and are just not viable to be made here – those that are very labour intensive to make, for instance.

But why import a load of cheap textiles that get worn once and then thrown into landfill, when instead you can buy a couple of quality pieces and treasure them for a lifetime because they are made to last.

It was my background as a buyer that lead me to this conclusion – first making everything here and then gradually moving over to China made me realise that the days of cheap manufacturing from the Far East would not last a lifetime and that we needed to do something to stop the decline in our own manufacturing. Otherwise the price of goods is going to skyrocket! And they’ll be poorly made ones too…

So true!

You can share the benefits by taking a share in a UK company. All business, large or small, are there to profit their owners – why else do people set them up, work hard, put their assets on the line, take financial risks? What I would like to see is those who work in the business at any level have a share in the business that, when the business does well, gives them a reward. It may incentivise those if it affected their earnings. Giving them a say in the way the company was run should also be beneficial.

The needs of the citizens are served by the taxes these companies generate.

people associate a made in Britain label with a quality product. Well, we were trounced on quality and reliability by overseas car and motor cycle manufacturers, photographic and electronic equipment was much better value, the TV industry died, so I don’t think this statement is true. I wish it were. Where emerging economies scored was they invested in new and up-to-date manufacturing plant and equipment that made things better and reduced labour cost. We need to do the same here but setting up such facilities is expensive.

That is where, after Brexit, we could have the opportunity, particularly with government help. Not necessarily though direct subsidy but by providing incentives for private investors to support new industry; the obvious way is through tax incentives. We need to build an innovative, efficient manufacturing base, as we once had.

Derek. i couln’t disagree more, because if we take in foreign investment in our production industries, that would mean that all the profits gained would be bled out of the national economy and end up going abroad, which would cause stagnation at home.As for foreign nationals working here,i think that we should make sure that our own workers should get prioritys that is the only way to find the inventors and innovators of the future.

Malcolm wrote: “The needs of the citizens are served by the taxes these companies generate.” I’m not so sure. Perhaps the citizens of this country have been exploited to help Mr Dyson accumulate a small fortune. I would rather Dyson made a fortune rather than the likes of Amazon, but large successful companies need to be taxed more.

Quite. And those taxes need to be spent for the benefit of the citizens.However, success should not be penalised. Just extract a fair contribution.

If we could agree that large corporations were taxed more heavily – as individuals are with income tax – that would be a step forward, Malcolm. I’m all for rewarding effort but it can and does get out of hand.

Charities, for example? 🙁 University vice chancellors perhaps. Footballers? TV “personalities? Company CEOs? I happens all over and I doubt it will change. Tax should be equitable, so people like amazon, Google, Starbucks should pay their dues. But as long as there is a lack of international cooperation advantage will be taken of loopholes.

However, back on topic. If Germany and Italy can mass produce white goods I see no reason why it couldn’t happen here. But it requires huge investment to set up the efficient mass production necessary and that cannot happen overnight.

I hope that silly salaries do end.

Rather than producing white goods with little profit margin it might be better to focus on specialist products of high value. Other countries have more natural resources than the UK.

Given our recent historic and current track record in investing in UK industry, I think our only realistic prospects for re-investment would need us to team up with foreign investors. This may not appeal to the likes of Colin G Griffiths, but I think it is necessary.

Perhaps this article might give pause for thought to the management at ‘Which’, who constantly promote Amazon as a shopping site. I understand that they (The Consumers Association} receive renumeration for their association with Amazon and their promotion of this US owned business is ensuring the probability that more British retailers will go out of business.

I think that Which has lost sight of its initial purpose which was to help British Consumers and is more concerned with increasing it’s own income. Why is it necessary for this ‘Charity’ to pay a manager half a million pounds a year, the second highest wage of any Charitable organisation in the UK? Tell me if I am wrong!

I have no connection with any business of any kind but I can see that the Exchequer and consequently all public services and the British consumer are the poorer because of the taxes which are avoided by foreign companies.

Well said David!

Thankfully our supermarkets make it easy to know where fresh produce comes from and I buy British and preferable local produce if possible. Apart from supporting our own farmers it avoids transporting goods round the world.

I pay attention to where goods are made. A couple of years ago I bought some MK electrical products they were prominently marked ‘Made in the UK’. Earlier this year I needed another and noticed that the origin was not stated on the pack. I inspected the rest of the MK range on display in Wickes and it was the same. When I opened the pack I found what I expected – Made in China. I hope that MK ensures that the product is made to the same safety standards but I feel let down by the company.

Wickes also had electrical products sold under the brand BG – British General. I suspect that the name is used to encourage people to buy the products but I don’t think they are made in the UK.

Many products that are labelled as British are only assembled here, possibly because this is a way of charging higher prices.

Which? could provide information about the origin of goods in product reviews and push for honest marketing of goods labelled British.

“Which? could provide information about the origin of goods in product reviews and push for honest marketing of goods labelled British.” – That has a FANTASTIC idea.
I hope that Which reads these comments and take note. I’ll certainly raise it with the editor.

I won’t claim any credit for that, Kate. It’s a comment that has been made by other contributors to Which? Conversation. Unfortunately we are having a bit of a problem with getting Which? to pay much attention to our suggestions at present but this will change if they expect us to continue our membership. Perhaps you might have more success.

I have looked at your informative video that explains the requirements for products to be labelled as British: https://makeitbritish.co.uk/made-in-britain-label/ It’s a pity that you expect viewers to provide their name and email address, but it is easy to skip forward.

Thanks very much for joining in the discussion.

Let’s hope we get a wave of support for the made in Britain labelling on this article and then maybe they will listen!

Yes – would be great if Which could take this on as one of their Campaigns ……… to campaign for honest marketing of goods labelled British! It would be good to know the origin of the goods we’re buying.

Pravin says:
29 April 2018

Personally I rather buy quality well designed product, value for money then made in UK, rembember people in other country are not stupid they will compete by designing relevant product. Pravin

I want Britain to succeed and would like the products it makes and the food it produces to be worth buying. But our businesses are in it to make money for their owners and shareholders and I am not prepared, at a personal level, to pay a premium for an equivalent I can buy elsewhere simply to support their wealth. They need to earn our business.

What I would like to see is the government supporting UK manufacturing and agricultural business in constructive ways. In agriculture, ensure it is the farmer-producer who is helped, not the landowner, in ways that expand UK food production of stuff we want. In manufacturing, encourage collaboration between university research centres and business on the basis that results are retained in the UK and benefit us; encourage shareholders in start-up manufacturing enterprises to invest and retain their shareholding for a longish period, rather like fixed-term savings bonds; encourage business to make all employees shareholders/partners so they all benefit from the success directly.

Maybe Brexit wlll give us opportunities that don’t exist now. However, we must not become insular; we want to trade with the rest of the world and that means they’ll want to trade with us. Make sure we make more of what they want.

Well said Malcolm!

How about a little example from the top: possibly new passports printed in the UK!!

I’d go for that, if De La Rue had put in a competitive bid. But they were £120 million more expensive, I read. Part of being in the EC is the requirement to procure significant purchasing by open tendering throughout the EC. It gives us, well in principle anyway, the same opportunities to bid for business in Europe as EC states can here.

I used to know folk who worked at De La Rue. At least then, much of their business was for overseas clients.

but the French company is subsidised by the French government and is able to undercut our bid because they can fall back on government funding to make up any shortfalls. Quality must count and quality usually means not putting forward the lowest bid. If British Made equates to top quality then we will inevitably lose out (and often do) under the agreed EU rules sadly.

Sylvia, could you provide the evidence of subsidy?
Quality is a part of the specification you write for the product you wish to buy. If a tenderer does not offer the standard you require then their bid could be excluded.

I always try to buy British whenever I can. There are some British manufacturers that make their products in China but rely on their history of making products in this country. I’ve just bought some new Hi-Fi made in the the UK by Linn, Exposure Electronics & Goldring. My amplifier is made by Sugden in Yorkshire. Companies like Wharfedale & Quad are made in China. Arcam makes very few items in the UK now. Mostly made in China or US. There are lots of UK manufacturers that deserve our support, Rega, Naim, Neat Acoustics, Chord cables and yes some of UK Hi-Fi is expensive but my Sugden amplifier is 25yrs old, my Linn Turntable is 35yrs old but they can still be serviced and the Linn turntable can still be upgraded. You can by a Rega turntable for £250 a Rega Amplifier fir £598 and a pair of speakers from. Rega for £600 and such a system will give you so much involvement in your music for years to come.

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I’m still using an Arcam Alpha that must be over 30 years old and still works perfectly, despite being one of the cheaper models. While I don’t see much future for making cheap white goods in the UK I see plenty of opportunity to make HiFi separates.

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Yes, and if repairs are needed they are easy to do. Now that some people are prepared to spend a considerable amount of money on TVs, there are opportunities there. Perhaps a USP could be smart TVs where the apps don’t stop functioning after a couple of years. They might appeal to those whose Panasonic/Sony/LG/Samsung has let them down.

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Duncan, apprentices leaving after serving their time was a different problem – it essentially diminished the enthusiasm of employers to run apprentice schemes.

Fake news is also nothing new – we used to call it propaganda.

I was working on Tyneside during the miners’ strike, when they fell prey to MT’s battle plan to smash their unions. Some of my colleagues had family who were striking miners and some had family in the police forces.

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I’m not sure it was quite as one sided as you see it duncan. As for Made in Britain we perhaps set the problem in place when we were bankrupt after WW2 but helped put German industry back on its feet, and how they capitalised on that. And we give money away to countries such as India as aid when they are developing their own economy and wealthy people quite nicely for themselves. And we spend billions on defence from an MoD that seems incapable of controlling projects financially. I’d rather that sort of money was spent in training youngsters to become good designers, engineers, scientists to prepare us for a more productive and profitable future.

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Duncan, in wartime we share our good ideas with our allies but we don’t necessarily do that for FREE.

During the cold war, the USA spent a lot of money in the UK, so I’d say that they clearly didn’t just get all our good ideas for free.

Strangely enough, there is often a lot of military and commercial secrecy around these matters, so the general public won’t have access to all of the facts.

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Sorry Duncan, that’s not correct here.

It would have been correct post-WW2, in respect of lend-lease, but that wasn’t what I was talking about here.

It makes good business and environmental sense to have a strong manufacturing base in the UK. There are Iconic brands such as Anglepoise and Morphy Richards which are perceived to be made here but sadly are manufactured in China. These companies should be persuaded to bring back the manufacturing to the UK. As well as providing good jobs the companies will be able to offer much better customer support in terms of service. I purchased a bicycle that was manufactured in Dorset and the whole experience has been great in terms of product quality and support.

If it did make good business sense to manufacture goods in the UK then the companies you mention and many others would have continued to do so. Importing products from the far east is more cost effective even though it makes no environmental sense to transport goods from the other side of the globe.

Kate’s video (link in my post above) says that a BMW Mini can be labelled as Made in Britain, despite being a foreign company and made from imported parts, because assembly takes place in England.

I hope your bicycle is made in the UK rather than just assembled here, like other cycle brands that many associate with being British.

Some well known British names have been resurrected to help sell cheap imported goods. ‘Bush’ is an example.

Whilst the video does say that technically if it is assembled here it can be made in Britain, obviously there are varying degrees of ‘britishness’.
Take shoes made in Northampton as an example. There are some companies who choose to cut the leather and sew the uppers in India, import these parts and then put the sole on in the UK, whilst there are others that choose to do every bit here – the cutting, stitching, lasting and sticking is all done in Northampton.
Speak to either type of manufacturer and they will claim that their shoes are truly ‘made in Britain’ and worthy of the label, which technically they are. But the purists will only buy the ones where the uppers are stitched here, such as at Cheaney, Trickers etc and they are willing to pay more for those than say Loakes, which probably retail at about £100 less per pair.
I think that buying either is still contributing to the footwear industry remaining in the region…but personally I buy Cheaneys!

This is why we need transparency and since information can be difficult to find and manufacturers not always forthcoming, it is difficult for consumers.

If we are to make real progress, effort is needed to encourage the sale of mid-price products that are made in Britain because far more people are likely to buy them.

Having a genuine product origin would create a much more even playing field, and it would also allow customers to understand and make a more informed decision on which product to purchase.

I absolutely agree, but the problem is what proportion of the parts would have to be British made. Thinking about electronic components, many are only available from overseas suppliers.

I certainly want to have honest information available to that I can make an informed choice about how to spend my money.

Transparency and letting the consumer make an informed decision is what it is all about

We could do with you in the white goods sector, Kate. Companies are bought and sold and it’s difficult to know who owns different brand names.

Companies should be required to state where their products are made. If it needs percentages then so be it e.g. 50% value added in the UK, 25% in Italy and 25% in Austria. It takes me ages to buy anything as rogue sellers are often resistant to admitting where the product comes from. And finding an email address to pursue them via is also often really time consuming. The lie that it is not possible to know should not be accepted as Customs won’t take such a comment when good arrive here. They need to know for statistics and for levying any duties.

I think this will come and some point…

Kim says:
28 April 2018

Yes. I would like to buy clothes and products made in the UK but from organic and sustainable textiles and sustainable resources. Not synthetic textiles.

As buying locally is so much more sustainable you’d think stores would be pushing it wouldn’t you? But even when they have british-made products they are rubbish at labelling them.
I think it often boils down to the fact that if they shout about the ones that ARE made here it highlights the ones that AREN’T !!

If I ran a shop I would certainly promote the fact that I was selling British-made products.

I look up the food hygiene ratings of places when I eat out. It’s not uncommon for restaurants to have a top (5) rating but have not put up their door/window label to show this.

Caroline Bruce says:
28 April 2018

It would definitely be beneficial for consumers to know the origin of the products they buy and have an informed choice when making purchases. Those who want to support British made goods and services can then more easily do so.
We have been bombarded by cheap foreign goods and services over many years and its been at the expense of our own industries.
I personally I would rather buy British where possible. I am sure that there is so much more the government can do to support British industry, but I think its fantastic Kate Hills is championing the cause!

Thanks for your support Caroline. So very much appreciated 🙂

Sassie says:
28 April 2018

Yes good idea!

Great article Kate…

Emma Willis says:
28 April 2018

I think that is an excellent idea as too many bogus claims of made in the UK online
Emma Willis

Mabel says:
28 April 2018

I work in the fashion industry for a good number of years. I studied pattern cutting, Garment Construction and Cutting Room Practise in a local Technical College in the late 80s. When clothing production was moved from the UK to the Far East, the system of education which supported the clothing manufacturing industry was gradually faced out.

The countries which are producing clothes to be sold on the British High Street, find it difficult to get the fit right for many obvious reasons. ie either they do not understand the British Body Shape particularly British women’s body shape or their women do not wear the type of clothes they are producing to be sold on the British High Street. In some of the countries the machinists cannot handle the fabrics the styles are made in. For those reasons they have not got the skills to cut the patterns and make the styles to fit the British woman. Menswear fit is not a big issue.

I had an interview to work for one of the British High Street retailers. I had to do a research to find out about the quality of clothes on the high street as I would be working in a technical position. What I discovered was very disappointing. Garments which were made in Britain came out to have more quality issues than those made outside the UK. I would be one of the first to fly the flag of made in Britain Clothes and would not mind paying a little more for my clothes provided the quality is up to my expectation.
If clothing manufacturing is coming back to the UK, how are the manufacturers going to be supported to get the skills that are required to give Made-In -Britain clothes that stand out and portray British Heritage?

Hi Mabel
Thanks for your comments.
I agree wholeheartedly with what you have said about the trouble getting the fit right with garments made in different countries. Never was this more evident than when I worked as a swimwear buyer for a department store chain. We sometimes had to fit some of the fuller sizes a dozen times because there was no way that anyone in the Chinese factory could try them on, so they just couldn’t get it right.
There does need to be a focus from colleges here in teaching manufacturing and construction and not just designers…it’s happening, slowly but surely.

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The philosophy of buying British above other considerations is flawed. I presume that such a philosophy would not support the idea of the French buying only French or the Germans buying only German. I guess the suggestion would be for them to buy British as their priority as well. I approve of all initiatives and incentives to promote British goods and services but ultimately I will continue to make my choice based upon such time honoured dimensions as price, quality, design, durability and customer service. I would be delighted if this meant all my choices were British. Applying this flawed philosophy I doubt that middle class Russians could be persuaded to forego their Mercedes for a brand spanking new Lada.

I don’t think that anyone has suggested that buying British should be the only consideration, but it does not make environmental sense to ship bulky goods large distances. I believe that poor durability could be addressed by encouraging people to look for products with longer guarantees. This would push up the quality of goods because the retailer/manufacturer could not afford to have to pay for many repairs during the guarantee period. Price is a major consideration which is why well known brands import goods from countries where manufacturing costs are lower.

I am not suggesting that buying British goods should be the only consideration. What I am suggesting is that it should be factored into choice only if all other dimensions of quality appear equal. A reduced environmental impact adds value in the same way as price, quality and a long guarantee but buying British for that reason alone adds nothing.

“it does not make environmental sense to ship bulky goods large distances”. No, it doesn’t, and as white goods are bulky and largely air, it would make sense to make them in the UK. Better to ship in the materials required.

We can make high value specialist products here, as design and innovation is still one of our strengths, but then others catch up by adopting that technology themselves so we have to keep ahead of the game. We will not do that unless we have engineers and scientists properly educated and remunerated to accomplish continuous innovation. Our current education system seems unfit and there are no incentives to enter these disciplines – other than personal interest. I’d abolish tuition fees for these – but still be selective about the quality of those accepted.

I agree – there needs to be a reason to buy British, not just out of patriotism. The reasons we would buy British would be the same why others would in export markets – quality, reliability and value for money. No point in subsidising uncompetitive or inadequate products.

rajabalzarahni – I agree, but since not many people consider environmental impact I think we will have to move towards taxation of moving large and bulky goods between countries.

Different people have different priorities and there is no doubt that British fresh produce is more attractive to customers. It’s interesting to see how much people differ in their views about price/quality.

Anna Cook says:
28 April 2018

Really want to buy ‘stuff’ made/grown/etc in the UK. A minor point, Sainsbury granulated/castor sugar is French produced, although ‘bagged’ in the UK. Knowing it makes one fat, rots teeth, is not ‘politically correct’, but at least make sure it is British!