From the production of fuel for the country’s nuclear power stations and fighter jets, to precision machined components, fabrics, specialist chemicals, paints and wallpaper, and food, Lancashire’s makers are renowned for their quality products at home and abroad.
They could be on the cusp of a boost, too, due to continuing problems with global supply chains as the economy emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, the aftermath of the container ship blocking the Suez Canal last year, and the impact of war in Ukraine.
From a shortage of computer chips for use in new cars that has caused second-hand car prices to rocket, to wheat, and supply chain pressures on goods imported from China and elsewhere are causing many to start thinking about how we might be able to ramp-up local production in the UK to improve resilience.
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Brandon Daniels, chief executive at Exiger, which has developed software to reshape supply chains, recently said “the diversification of our supply chains is critical to our economic prosperity and national security”, and that the just-in-time supply chain model pioneered by companies like Toyota in the 1980s may now need a re-think.
Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce that organises the BIBAs, said: “Manufacturing as a proportion of UK economic activity has shrunk considerably over the years as businesses have moved production overseas to take advantage of cheaper energy and labour costs, but as current events show, this results in lengthy and complex supply lines that are at greater risk of disruption.
“By making more of what we need at home, we can make the UK economy more resilient to supply shocks like this. If you can, buy from fellow Lancastrian businesses too, because not only will this mean much shorter lines of supply, more of the money spent will then stay in our local economy.”
This week, BIBAs judges will meet businesses competing for the Manufacturer of the Year title, and will be eager to see evidence of them growing and supporting Lancashire-based supply chains, Babs said.
Also in front of the judges this week are firms vying for glory in the Most Resilient, Community and Service Business of the Year categories as well as Employer of the Year sponsored by Preston College and Global Business of the Year sponsored by Team Leyland International.