Why Are Firms Bringing Manufacturing Back To Britain?

An interesting article on the BBC website today 13/03/2024 outlines a resurgence in companies looking to reshore manufacturing from overseas to the UK. At GF Laser we have also seen a trend in companies looking to procure laser cutting in the UK having previously sourced it from overseas.

What Started the Trend in Offshoring?

In the early 90’s there was a rush for UK companies to utilise overseas manufacturers in growing economies such as China. The primary driver for sourcing from overseas or, in many cases, moving whole production lines, was cost. Emerging economies had cheap labour, relaxed safety laws and governments that were willing to encourage foreign investment with subsidies and other incentives. This was very attractive to large manufacturers who were under continual pressure to produce goods as cheaply as possible. GF Laser’s sister company, Moseley Brothers, specialised purely in manufacturing automotive tooling during this time and saw a dip in demand as the large carmakers started sourcing tools from China. Fortunately they managed to weather the storm but many engineering companies didn’t and were unfortunately forced out of business.

The Pandemic and the Global Supply Chain. 

Prior to the Covid pandemic, there were some tentative signs that companies were recognising that the prices in China and other similar low cost economies suddenly weren’t that low. Increased wages coupled with the fact that UK companies were utilising automation to speed up productivity meant that the gap had narrowed and led many buyers to look closer to home.

Once the pandemic hit and goods were no longer able to flow freely around the world, large companies realised that their supply chains weren’t as robust as they thought. Suddenly they were unable to sell their own goods because of shortages in raw materials and key components. Buyers started looking closer to home and found a supply chain that was competitive and, best of all, that they could visit at a moments notice to keep an eye on production.

Whilst not all of this production stayed locally long term, many buyers kept faith with local suppliers which has allowed manufacturers to invest further to become more competitive.

Ongoing Geo-Political Events.

Subsequent events after the pandemic have reinforced the view that utilising local supply chains is a good idea. Wars in Ukraine and the Middle East combined with terrorist attacks on shipping have made buyers even more nervous about relying on just one supplier thousands of miles away.

Unfortunately, increasing global tensions between countries also means governments are looking to ringfence critical industries to make sure they can be self sufficient and not wholly reliant on a potentially unfriendly country.

Buyer Behaviour and The Amazon Effect.

Buyers are demanding newer and better products all the time, this has led to shorter production runs both in terms of numbers and time. It’s very difficult for Western manufacturers to compete with the Far East who are able to leverage large infrastructure and large labour pools to produce at scale and at low cost. However, UK manufacturers in particular are very good at producing lower volumes and have a pool of highly skilled staff required to make the necessary technological advances demanded by consumers.

Whilst Amazon might be seen as the enemy by many manufacturers, their ability to deliver almost any product to the consumer within 24 hours has meant that people no longer choose to source from overseas due to the potentially long wait for goods – using local suppliers that can deliver on the same day means that companies are able to satisfy consumers demand for fast goods!

If you are looking to reshore laser cutting in low or high volumes then why not obtain a quotation from GF Laser. Simply complete your enquiry on our Contact Form and a member of the team will respond as quickly as possible.


UK manufacturing, including the laser cutting industry, has faced numerous challenges over the past few years such as the increase in both energy and labour costs. This makes the trend for reshoring a massive boost. The BBC quotes a study that some 58% of companies are looking to reshore all or part of their supply chain. Long may it continue.