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Straight from FIG HQ

Manufacturing success in the North West

October 2020Helen

As we enter a new phase of pandemic -related restrictions, it’s great to share some good news about the success of manufacturing in our region.

Earlier this month The Manufacturer published North West spotlight: A region on the up and up in which Jonny Williamson describes how a rich history of innovation has seen the North West become ‘a beacon for investment, innovation and influence’.

Inspirational innovation

A passion for innovation is especially strong among our clients.

Take Glossop-based TEL who recently upgraded their world-leading laboratory airflow controllers to enhance performance and user experience and deliver impressive energy efficiencies. 

Or Oldham-based Armacell, pioneers in flexible foam for insulation, who added ArmaGel DT to their portfolio, a next generation flexible aerogel blanket for dual-temperature and cryogenic applications.

And with sites across the UK and Ireland, SRL Traffic Systems is the UK’s largest manufacturer and supplier of portable and temporary traffic systems. A high growth company with big ambitions, it recently expanded into the high speed variable message sign (VMS) market, with a multi-million pound investment in a fleet of large VMS units designed for high speed dual carriageways and motorways.

Awesome adaptability

The article also credits an ingrained willingness to embrace change as contributing to the region’s now global reputation. The pandemic has certainly put this to the test for many of our manufacturing clients.

Derbyshire-based CJK Packaging & iBottlesa leading distributor of plastic bottles, jars and containers saw its trading environment change overnight. Demand for key products (including sanitiser bottles and detergent sprays) initially outstripped supply, but sensitive management of customers, suppliers and employees soon saw the business adapt and thrive. FIG supported CJK by communicating stock availability via social media and emailshots, relieving pressure on high demand areas and signposting buyers to alternatives. Continued, long term investment in its workforce and infrastructure as well as an extensive product range also contributed to CJK’s navigation of this difficult period. 

Meanwhile Northwood Hygiene Products Ltd who manufacture, supply and transport away-from-home professional paper hygiene products found that demand in some sectors (events and hospitality for example) ground to a halt as the pandemic took hold. Again, they moved quickly and decisively to focus on the healthcare side of the business and diversified into the production of PPE. We supported their change in strategy with a range of marketing collateral turned around against tight timeframes. Moving forwards, we look forward to working on Northwood’s B2C offering which has been accelerated as a direct result of the pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, Derbyshire-based Thermal Fluid Solutions generated most of their business face-to-face and they also provided specialist on-site training in thermal oils to customers around the world. But with this route to market cut off they had to think on their feet and find new ways to deliver their offering and keep in touch with their customers. We created promotional material to support TFS as they moved quickly to take their training online and deliver a series of educational webinars.

Super stats

The article also reported some fantastic figures that underline just how bright the future of manufacturing in our region looks:

  •  Manufacturing output £18.5bn – represents 15% of total regional output (the national average is around 10%)
  • 130%: manufacturing salary as a % of average regional salary
  • 118%: manufacturing productivity against UK average 

Yes the trading environment may look a little uncertain right now but one thing is for sure, manufacturing businesses in the north-west have the tools and the temperament not just to take on the challenges ahead but to pave the way for the rest of the country to follow.

If you want to find out more about FIG’s manufacturing clients visit our portfolio.

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