Brexit and the manufacturing industry – what’s the story?

  22/02/2019

Brexit is bearing down on us at a rate of knots after what seems like an eternity since the referendum. At the time of writing, no-deal hasn’t been ruled out and a deal hasn’t been confirmed, so with just weeks to go until the 29 March deadline, everything is still very much up in the year.

That said, the imminent departure of the UK from the EU block is already causing disruption and making its presence felt across the UK economy.

  • The airline FlyBMI blamed Brexit uncertainty for its collapse last week
  • Food and drink prices are expected to rise meaning some retailers (and consumers) have started to stockpile goods
  • The warehousing industry is said to be booming as businesses across numerous sectors try to build up a surplus ahead of the 29 March
  • Letting agents Belvoir says Brexit uncertainty has led to some homeowners in certain parts of the country delaying putting their homes on the market
  • Car manufacturers Honda and Nissan are scaling down their UK output with Nissan saying it now won’t manufacture its new X-Trail model in Sunderland and Honda announcing plans to close its facility in Swindon
  • Many businesses have reported recruitment issues with the tech and medical sectors in particular citing skills shortages
  • British success story Dyson has announced it will move its headquarters from the UK to Singapore – founder Sir James Dyson urged the UK to leave without a deal but says the move is more about ‘futureproofing’ his business.

Uncertainty Rather Than Departure

But what of the manufacturing sector? With so much still up in the air and so much still to be decided with regards to trade, legislation, imports, visas and tariffs, it’s impossible to say what impact Brexit will have on the manufacturing sector. What is clear is that the fear of the unknown is having an impact as everyone waits to see what life will be life outside of the EU.

The latest figures from The Office of National Statistics show that gross domestic product fell by 0.4% in December, with services, production and construction – which are regarded as the drivers of the economy – all shrinking. Looking at the whole of 2018, the GDP growth was 1.4%, the lowest in six years.

The Chancellor Philip Hammond said, “The UK is currently enjoying the longest unbroken quarterly growth streak of any G7 nation” but manufacturing output fell for the sixth consecutive month, putting the industry in recession territory with the longest consecutive decline since 2008.

The general secretary of the trade union TUC said that the spectre of a no-deal Brexit was casting a long shadow, remarking that no-deal needed to be taken off the table: ““With our manufacturing sector in recession, the prime minister must act now to remove the threat of crashing out.”

On top of this, the trade deficit was shown to have widened by a small margin in December.

Keeping Perspective

A slowdown is not restricted to the UK alone. While much has been made of the motoring industry disruption, China – considered one of the strongest economies in the world- has seen its own car sales slow for the first time in more than 30 years. Closer to home, Italy is classed as in recession and Germany’s economy is also slowing. While it is narrowly avoiding recession, analysts predict it will remain sluggish for at least the first half of the year with a strong rebound considered ‘unlikely’. In the US, unemployment may be at historically low levels but retail sales have also slumped.

So What Does This Mean For Wearwell?

Wearwell has always been incredibly proud to be a British manufacturer and we champion British production and output. Most of the fabric we use in our workwear is sourced from UK manufactures which are perfectly positioned to support our ever-growing team of machinists. Wearwell does imports fabric and trim from Europe, which is unavoidable, as we believe the fabrics, we use in our garments to be the very best Europe has to offer!

Our client base is also predominantly UK located and, as we approach our 80 year anniversary, we’re stronger than ever with notable new client wins, a growing workforce and a growing order book.

There is no doubt that Brexit uncertainty is unsettling many and lots of details surrounding the UK exit from the EU remain to be clarified but here at Wearwell, we see Brexit as an opportunity and are heading into the future with confidence.

Posted by Ross Gard    |    22/02/2019    |    Wearwell