3 October 2014
I wonder how many people bought their coffee from an American chain on the way to work this morning, or ordered a book online. Whilst it’s often convenient to stick with what you know, what would happen if we all chose to buy local instead? Grab an espresso from the coffee shop on the high street or buy a buy a book from an independent bookstore. Today may be Buy British day, but shouldn’t it be every day?
Looking back to when the UK was at it its very strongest, we had a thriving manufacturing industry and we built products that we exported right across the globe; from the slate mines in Wales right through to the Victorian clothes mills. Since then, other countries have taken that role. They have learnt how to manufacture more cheaply and they’re innovative and patriotic; they’ve got a point to prove.
Personally, I think that’s why the Chinese economy and the Indian economy are growing so fast. They are making more for the rest of the world than they consume themselves. If Britain manufactured more, not just for ourselves but for global consumers, and we could manufacture at cheaper prices and be cost effective globally, then we would have as much stronger economy. But it all starts with buying British. If we said, as British people, that we were going to really make an effort to buy British components and British products, that would have a massive bearing on where global brands would place their manufacturing houses and their factories.
There is more manufacturing coming back to the UK already and you can feel it. Sadly, it’s true that a lot of our great brands like the Bentley and the Mini and the Rolls Royce are now German-owned. They were bought by the likes of BMW who saw longevity in our cars and were prepared to invest in the manufacturing of them. Yet whilst Bentley is German-owned, they’ve still got 4,000 people manufacturing in Crewe. So for me it still feels like buying British because it’s a British heritage brand and they’ve been good enough to keep the factories open in the UK.
However, whilst we might have less choice when it comes to cars, there are plenty of other industries where British brands compete and offer high-quality alternatives. As consumers, this is what we should be focusing on and, as manufacturers, our job is to make ourselves affordable and cost-effective globally. This way, we can really push our economy to the next level.