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School council: John Turner
Production director at William Turner & Son talks about the future of UK manufacture.

By Laura Turner

18 February 2012

Image: John Turner production director, William Turner & Son

Laura Turner: Why do you manufacture in the UK?
John Turner: It’s the most efficient supply chain to complete our orders on time to our customers’ satisfaction. We manufacture several thousand ties every week, but our average order is around 100, so we find offshore suppliers cannot adapt to consistently meet the demands of our niche market.
Our sales, manufacturing and distribution units are based in north-west England. However, our sales agents cover the whole of the British Isles and beyond.

LT: What are the main pros and cons?
JT: The main benefit is the control we have over the manufacture in terms of quality and lead time. We can inspect the order at every stage and respond quickly to changing delivery requirements.
We can offer a quicker service – our ties are delivered next day rather than prolonged sea freight or expensive airfreight – our minimum is just 36 ties, and we can ensure our capacity is all year round rather than specific buying periods. It also allows us to work more closely with our own UK suppliers.
On the downside, we’ve not seen the investment in manufacturing the sector deserves, which has led to a general skills shortage, but we’ve combated this by investing in our own in-house training programme.

LT: How do you see the future of UK manufacture?
JT: There is certainly resurgence in the popularity of goods produced in the UK led by the fashion industry and the supermarkets supporting UK produce. Made in UK is, quite rightly, still regarded as a premium quality item for which most consumers accept there will be an increased price.
We supply handmade college scarves to America and Japan and they covet our Made in UK label. UK consumers are also much more aware of the environmental costs of global versus UK sourcing, particularly carbon emissions, and no longer buy on price alone.

 

 

 
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