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The Made in Britain logo – will it make a difference?

UK flag

If you’re confused about which brands are still UK-made, you’re not alone. A campaign for a new logo identifying British brands was met with popular support after half of us admitted we were unsure which brands are British.

And it’s hardly surprising. A company will invest fortunes in a brand because the image – not the factory – is worth the money when that company is sold.

So while ownership might change hands and nationality a hundred times, what was once a British brand can carry on looking like one. HP’s HQs may now be with Heinz in America, but its sauce still carries a picture of the Houses of Parliament.

Rolls Royce, the Mini and even Thames Water have been sold to German companies; Manchester United is American; Jaguar is now Indian; Harry Ramsden is Swedish; Hamley’s Icelandic and even the Body Shop was sold – to the French.

Does being British-made matter?

But if products are still made in the same way – and look the same, taste the same and smell the same as a result – does it matter? Would a mere change in ownership mean you’d stop buying a product you love? Or would knowing it wasn’t British-made (though maybe still pretending to be) somehow seem fraudulent or change your feelings?

The questions become more complicated for modern appliances and products assembled from hundreds of parts from various countries. It’d be hard to feel patriotic allegiance if a product has ‘Made in the UK’ slapped on as the last part in a continent-hopping assembly line.

Made in Britain logoThe Made in Britain logo was launched by British company Stoves with the backing of UK manufacturers and MPs. To qualify, companies must say ‘the majority’ of their production or manufacturing takes place in the UK – though this isn’t policed by Stoves, with companies certifying their own eligibility.

So far over 100 manufacturers have applied for the logo, including Samuel Heath (Bathrooms), Roman Showers, The Pure H2O company, Ultima Furniture, Chalon (Kitchens), Big Bale Transtacker, Taylor Bins, Anglia Kitchens and Bathrooms LTD, Perrin and Rowe (Taps), Bartuf (Retail display manufacturers) and Primisil Silicones LTD.

Do you want to buy British?

According to Stoves’ research, over a third of British consumers say they’d buy British more often if it were easier to identify British products. It’s a noble sentiment, but would it change when we see the price tag carried by products from profitable, 100% British manufacturers?

Some foods and drinks already carry Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) labels that let consumers know that foods like Jersey Royals and Cornish Clotted Cream are made according to tradition and in the designated area. Yet the UK only has 16 registered PDOs, compared with France’s 82 and Italy’s 143.

If we care so much about provenance and protecting British industry, why don’t we fly the flag for more of our products? And why not take it a step further by voting with our feet to help defend shops and local producers from the global brands that undercut them? The question is, will the Made in Britain logo help us do this?

Would a Made in Britain logo help you buy British?

Yes it would (84%, 907 Votes)

No it wouldn't (9%, 92 Votes)

I don't care about buying British (7%, 78 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,077

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Phil says:
25 July 2011

I thought Jaguar was owned by the Indian company Tata.

Has it changed hands again?

You’re quite right Phil. It stopped being British when it was sold to Ford, but now it is owned by Tata Motors (an Indian company). We’ve made an edit. Thanks.

…with companies certifying their own eligibility.

I support buying British as long as the quality is good and the price is reasonable, but this is a daft scheme, however well intentioned it may be. Look at the dishonesty in advertising that gets past the Advertising Standards Authority. Without any checks, ‘Made in Britain’ will just become a legitimate scam.

I would like to see British products that are honestly marketed.

Megan Brown says:
4 August 2011

Hi wavechange. We’re an online retailer that positively encourages consumers to buy British. We do this by carefully sourcing our products and categorising them by provenance on our website. Do you think this is an honest way to market products?

Sorry Megan but I missed this when I was on holiday.

It is good when companies do take the trouble to provided this information but we live in a world that not everyone tells the truth. In a world where so much advertising borders on dishonesty and misrepresentation, I would be happier to know that information is accurate. If retailers of genuine British products are do not have to compete with organisations selling cheap imports it could help them too.

Incidentally, one of my reasons for preferring to buy British is because it is environmentally acceptable to transport goods half way round the world.

Syd says:
25 July 2011

I agree with wavechange that the ideal would be to have some sort of assurance but until manufacturers have a body similar to the Assured Food Standards this is not going to be. However if the marque does take off then I think assurance will come to the fore.
Hopefully this logo will allow British manufacturers to promote themselves in the same way as British Farmers do, which has been very well received by the public.

When I started work 53 years ago there was a pride in producing the best that I could. Now it isn’t about producing the best its about producing the most, as cheap as possible, never mind if a proportion of the products fail. A ‘Made in Britain’ logo will NOT help if it isn’t backed by genuine honest endeavour to produce better British products. Once we used to lead the world in producing quality goods, and apparently we still in invention and innovation, but most British company names are now in foreign hands.
Comment: Does all this matter if because of this diversification we are moving to a more harmonious Europe and World?

I agree some type of assurance scheme which publicises how a product can meet the requirements for a “Made in Britain” label is needed.
It is not easy to agree a list of requirements as there are probably very few items where the material, components and labour all come from Britain.

I’d buy British if I could be sure of:
* quality
* price
* it’s British – I suspect importers will “interpret” any regulations on the mark and import from China – pack in Northampton and re-badge.

I buy local farm produce where I can from a local farmer’s market.
Any label – if effective – will be both flagrantly and subtly abused. Give me a label I can trust.

I’d love a logo on our products so we could have more of an idea to know for sure we were buying British. However how would we definetly know the fraudsters weren’t cheating?

Gideon says:
26 July 2011

Whenever people say buying British matters I ask them to say where their jeans are made (without checking). Very few people know because hardly anyone thinks to check. All else being equal, it might swing it but price and quality is king.

Yes, I care about job creation and manufacturing on home turf, but to me, Buying British is also important because it helps reduce air miles and – I would hope – reduces the chances of slave labour and child labour. Like others, I’d use a logo like this if I knew it had a more robust checking system.

Personally I’d like to go further. In an ideal world everything I eat and drink would have been produced within a 20 mile radius of my home – the sight of blueberries imported all the way from Chile on the shelves in my local supermarket in Kent (the garden of England!) never ceases to annoy.

Would I like to buy a British car too? Of course I would, because I’d be supporting British jobs and because down the years we have designed and built some of the greatest vehicles seen on the road, from Jags to Minis.

A credible labelling scheme highlighting British made products would be welcome – but it has to be credible.

Martin Melaugh says:
29 July 2011

As we all know Britain is made up of England, Wales and Scotland. The UK is comprised of Britain and Northern Ireland. So presumably items produced in Northern Ireland would not be able to display the ‘Made in Britain’ logo. Some producers in the region are likely to be unhappy, but perhaps some in Britain would welcome the advantage the logo might give them over their Northern Ireland competitors.

Colin Vaughan says:
29 July 2011

When it comes to Cars one has a problem, because Car Manufacturing is now a Global operation, so your Diesel Engine on your new Ford will have been Manufactured in Dagenham, whilst the Gearbox might have been made in Germany, and the whole vehicle assembled in Belgium. Then what indeed counts as made in Britain when Nissan in Sunderland, and Toyota in Swindon assemble their products here, and use some local suppliers of parts, but not 100%. Only small manufacturers like Morgan might be said to be truelly British in origin, and even there I would not be sure !

I think many people are misguided in thinking that buying foreign is ok. At a time when the country is struggling to pay it debits, sending money into foreign workers pockets is not only stupid but may cost you your job too! It has been shown that as Indian workers demand more money the cost of goods starts to rise, same with China. If we allow all our production to go abroad how are we going to be able to pay additional costs and not be able to produce ourselves because the skill and tooling has gone. China will have all the production and then it will have you and us by the short and curlies. You dont need world domination with a big army, do it by the back door!
There are a lot of British companies that would like you to think their goods are British when they are made in China. Wedgewood mix a lot of their British production range with Far East production, but its still back stamped England, same with Richardsons of Sheffield, its a long time since they produced there. In fact there are many British companies that have given up production here and its all Far East production, don’t be fooled just because it says England on the label, it does not say Made in England or Britain for that matter.
And why should Northern Ireland not be regarded as British?

Edward Coodies says:
29 July 2011

Tell that to the governement – that whole Bombardier/ trains fiasco truly makes me weep.

Yea! David Cameron only two weeks before was saying Buy British, of course that dosent apply to the Government!

Pat in Yate says:
29 July 2011

I would buy British every time. It is time we stood up for ourselves and showed the world what we are made of. I am prepared to put my money where my mouth is and pay more if necessary.
I always buy British produce when food shopping and will go out of my way to use a different store if my usual one doesn’t stock British fruit, veg and meat.

David says:
29 July 2011

British companies have been bought, then their UK manufactured products have have been sent abroad for manufacture , then imported into the UK under the “British” name.
Only looking closely you may see made in the EU, but it was not made in Britain.
This is done deliberately to mislead the British consumer.
This particulary applies to the sweets and confectionry industries. eg Cadbury`s, Rountrees, Terry`s and many more.
If it is not made in the UK do`nt buy it, eventually the message will get through and the UK will save jobs.

Pat in Yate says:
29 July 2011

Have just read the other comments. I agree with so many of them. It is time to push our government. I was so angry when I heard about Bombardier! We invented trains and built the best, now we allow ‘government’ to throw away our only remaining production. Shame on you, Cameron!
All mouth, as far as I am concerned, just the same as previous governments.It is the same with other products and industries too. Our ‘government’ lets any body take over British companies without trying to prevent it.THEY REALLY DON’T CARE ABOUT THIS COUNTRY AT ALL.

“If the majority of knives on the market are Made in China, why should Which? go out of its way to find knives that are made in the UK?”
Who said that?

TerryinDorset says:
29 July 2011

If it’s well made & good value then Yes, & I buy British now. However, I hope that red, white & blue symbol on this page isn’t chosen. It looks like something the Tory Party would use…..what’s wrong with out national flag & MadeInBritain under it? Use it – I won’t charge….

John says:
29 July 2011

Could Which produce and maintain an online database of “who owns what?” that would be accessible to members? At least we could then do our own research from a reliable source.