British manufactured goods are enjoying a renaissance in popularity as consumers become increasingly concerned with the provenance of their purchases.
And the benefits are accumulating at the bottom with boutique brands popping up in a variety of industries, according to supply chain standards organisation GS1.
In its latest Buying British report, GS1 notes that consumers increasingly expect that their food, drink and clothing should reflect their heritage, be ethical and have a lower environmental impact.
Fifty-five percent of consumers asked by GS1 specifically said they prefer buying British goods and a report by The Grocer last year noted three-fifths of shoppers say place of origin is at least as important to them as other factors
As GS1’s CEO Gary Lynch put it: “Heritage, provenance and traceability are no longer nice-to-haves but increasingly important factors that can make the difference between where consumers choose to spend their money”.
Bodileys of Northamptonshire is one British business that has watched the British made boom first-hand. The men’s shoe retailer was established in 1919 but is now solely online. Each pair of shoes, explains managing director Sarah Dudley, takes eight-to-ten weeks to make.
According to Dudley, the fourth generation of her family to run Bodileys, there has been a resurgence in the respect for British manufacturing and the British made shoe.
“We’re much more accessible now with having an online presence and the ability to ship all over the world.
“There’s more consumer interest now then what there was. There’s more interest in how it's made, the heritage, the whole story behind the British made men’s shoe,” she tells BusinessZone.
Just down the road from Bodileys, Longthorne Guns is a another Northamptonshire manufacturer that’s been experiencing steady growth. The gunmaker is due to add 20-30 employees in the next few years alongside the 15 staff it currently employees.
“We’ve invested a lot of money in our business,” Founder and owner James Longthorne Stewart told BusinessZone last year. “In the next seven years, we want to increase production from 150 to a 1,000 guns a year.”
Last year’s The Pitch final also featured a proudly British made product. Wick & Tallow produce luxury candles and co-founder Alice Malcolm Green agrees that the British made ethos is central to the brand’s success.
“We create a lot of bespoke candles for other brands and a lot of our clients are very adamant that everything is made in the UK and the factories we use have good working conditions,” she explains.
Wick & Tallow has a supply chain that spreads across the UK. The brand’s scents are developed in Hertfordshire, the glasses in which the candle’s are put are decorated in the North. “We work with various factories in and around London,” says Green. “For one project we’ve got around five or six different factories and artisans.”
Increasingly, it’s becoming very difficult to buy British made goods as many ‘British’ brands are owned by international conglomerates. But the appetite is clearly there for artisanal goods made end-to-end in the UK, despite the expense. “We’ve noticed,” says Green, “that we sell a lot of candles because we’re British candle company - as opposed to being bought out by a bigger American brand.”
About Francois Badenhorst
Francois is the deputy editor of BusinessZone and UK Business Forums.