Reshoring UK shines a beacon on the new opportunities for manufacturers

reshoring UK


Geopolitical events of the past few years have prompted some global manufacturers to rethink their strategies, including bringing their supply chains closer to home. 

For mid-sized manufacturers, reshoring offers an opportunity to work closely with some of the most innovative OEMs in the UK and EU, learning best practices and enabling them to compete on the world stage. As a homegrown supplier, this is a chance to raise the bar on quality, reliability, and innovation, and use automation to keep costs down. 

With all that in mind, how can SMEs put themselves in the strongest position possible to make the most of the shift to reshoring? 

We caught up with Alan Arthur , CEO for the owner of Reshoring UK; GTMA, a UK-based trade association representing leading companies in engineering and manufacturing. He sheds light on why now is the time to start preparing for this change, how companies are overcoming barriers to reshoring, and how Reshoring UK can help.

You have witnessed some really successful collaborations between SMEs and larger businesses that have reshored their operations to the UK. Could you tell us more?

Absolutely! Since the UK's exit from the European Union, our government can now direct public procurement bodies, including the Ministry of Defence, to allocate work within our borders. Some GTMA member companies have reported winning contracts in the defence sector. For example, a recent success of something that has benefitted from the UK manufacturing supply chain is the 'Boxer' infantry deployment vehicle. 

Going forward, MOD orders will be assembled in the UK, and many SMEs have been engaged to supply components for the first time. Our government’s aspiration is to ensure that up to 85% of the MOD procurement supply chain work is placed within our country, and we aim for greater visibility throughout that supply chain.

We anticipate a similar strategy being employed by Rolls Royce in the manufacturing of its Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). These next-generation nuclear power plants will be deployed in the UK and sold globally. In addition, Rolls Royce is currently recruiting SMEs to fulfil future manufacturing requirements.

It doesn’t end there. The UK's energy needs are also expected to grow, with a focus on wind and other technologies, which will shift manufacturing companies from producing parts for the oil and gas industries.

Recent global disruptions in supply chains have led manufacturers to reconsider the 'whole cost' of products and services, leading to dual sourcing. This, in turn, has created new chances for companies to bid for work, driving the reshoring agenda. It’s an exciting time to be an SME, although not without its challenges, especially when working with larger companies that are reshoring their manufacturing or supply chain operations.

How can SMEs effectively address these challenges?

Market intelligence plays a crucial role in helping companies identify and prepare to bid for work in new sectors and with new clients. Often, there's a need to register interest and go through a process to become an authorised, approved, or preferred supplier. This may also involve meeting specific quality standards or certifications. 

What are the primary benefits for SMEs, and the wider community of partnerships with larger businesses engaged in reshoring efforts? 

Larger businesses seek responsiveness, quality, and assurances of on-time supply from their tier suppliers. They also recognise the benefits of having integrated supplier networks to ensure resilience. Collaboration among suppliers facilitates this, and we are increasingly seeing clients creating possibilities for their suppliers to work together.

Locating the supply chain within the UK supports this effort, enhancing communication and reducing the carbon footprint. The drive towards achieving net-zero emissions is a pivotal factor influencing decisions made by procurement departments in bigger businesses, with its impact cascading further down the supply chain.

How can SMEs identify and connect with suitable larger companies seeking UK-based suppliers?

Now around a decade old, the Reshoring UK initiative is a collaboration of leading industrial engineering associations all with a common goal. They aim to assist manufacturers in connecting with UK-based suppliers, capable of delivering products and services that match their requirements. It now features almost 4,000 British companies, and serves as an ideal marketplace portal to promote reshoring efforts.

The GTMA actively collaborates with OEMs and top-tier companies to facilitate the alignment of manufacturing suppliers. With over 80 years of experience in supporting the UK manufacturing supply chain, it is recognised as a trusted channel for directing inquiries to our members. We offer networking, industry insights, and referral services to maximise opportunities for British companies. As a trade association, the GTMA is well-equipped to provide assistance.