COVID-19 might have replaced the daily news bulletins on Brexit, but both events may be having an impact on manufacturing.

 

A new report suggests that both Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic could relocate the production of £4.8 billion worth of goods to British shores.

 

Research carried out by advisory firm Alvarez and Marsal and research group Retail Economics also says there is evidence that the trend is already occurring across many sectors.

 

Last month many experienced former Laura Ashley workers were buoyed after securing a major contract with Asos, with the fashion giant looking to produce 20,000 garments a week in the Powys-based factory.

 

The factory, owned by supplier Fashion Enter, has also secured a further contract with Simply Be.

 

Similarly, it was recently announced Asos’ new ‘As You’ line will be produced in approved factories in Leicester.

 

There is even dedicated initiatives, such as Reshoring UK, which is an online marketplace focused solely on supporting companies to connect to UK-based engineering supply chains.

 

Likewise, Make it British, is a blog dedicated to championing British manufacturing and providing resources for businesses eager to manufacture in the UK.

 

COVID-19 uncertainty has also prompted a shift in foreign investor priorities, with the UK now deemed an attractive location for investment into manufacturing, as well as digital and healthcare.

 

A report on the latest UK attractiveness survey from EY found that 32% of manufacturers were looking to reshore activity in the UK, with a further 32% intending to invest in the isles in the next 12 months.

 

The structural weaknesses in global supply chains were highlighted amidst the height of the coronavirus pandemic, with overseas partners often slow to react to the everchanging situation.

 

The looming possibility of a no-deal Brexit could also see a startling increase on tariffs, with possible rises of 80% on some meat and dairy products, 12% on clothing and 16% on footwear, forcing retailers to look into alternative options.

 

An expert panel in The Engineer agreed that while efforts to fortify UK supply chains had already been gathering pace, both Brexit and COVID-19 had accelerated the process.

 

They argue that the pull of competitive prices from the likes of China and India is now not as greater an incentive than the flexibility of local supply, especially amid the unpredictability of Brexit.

 

Aside from Brexit, many businesses are also under increasing pressure from both investors and consumers to reduce their carbon footprint, especially within the fast fashion industry.

 

Relocating supply to their own shores will end the need for fuel-guzzling cargo ships and journeys, as well as environmentally damaging practices.

 

Whether it’s Brexit, COVID-19, the environment, or simply inevitable, a shift to British manufacturing does appear to be taking place, with ‘Made in Britain’ set to be increasingly more common.