Manufacture in the UK may be a shadow of its former self, but members of the cycle industry have told BikeBiz that they still believe the sector has plenty of potential, and the chance to excel.
Both short and long-term factors, including the exchange rate, growing labour costs in the Far East and a focus on innovation are helping to keep UK manufacture buoyant.
Will Butler-Adams, Brompton MD, told BikeBiz: “We remain one of the strongest manufacturing economies in the world (I think currently number six) but we have neglected this sector for some time and there is no quick fix.
“My belief is that if in the UK we focus on bulk (expensive to transport from China), degradable (such as food that needs to be produced close to the point of use) and innovative (world beaters, best in class that we are good at) manufacturing we have a lot to play for. The future for our sector looks promising but the global competition is getting better all the time so we cannot rest on our laurels.”
Richard Thorpe, founder of Karbon Kinetics and designer of Gocycle, said that he believed that the UK has become increasingly competitive: “The vast majority of bicycles produced for Europe and the USA are manufactured in Taiwan and China, and labour costs in these countries have been steadily rising.
“Add in the uncertainties of China’s currency exchange mechanism and you start to see a trend which will continue. The UK is becoming more competitive in comparison, and this certainly factored in our decision to move a significant portion of Gocycle production over from Taiwan to the UK two years ago.”
Rees Williams, Renthal commercial manager, added: “It is difficult being a UK manufacturer. I think the number of companies manufacturing parts here illustrates that.
"However, we still believe we have a lot to offer in terms of quality and innovation and our biggest challenge is to continually try and improve every aspect of our operation to be as efficient and as competitive as possible.”
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