Clockmaker brings production back to Britain

A clock maker is fighting the flow of manufacturing towards China and returning some of his business to the UK as a result of the changing economic climate.

Jim Read, managing director of Newgate Clocks, said that he was partially resuming production in Britain because manufacturing in China was becoming more expensive.

"We have seen the costs of making our clocks in China increase by 30 per cent over the last year," he said. "The cost of raw materials has gone up, taxes have increased, and labour costs have risen as China invests more in workers' rights and Health and Safety.

"We began moving our production to China seven years ago to be able to compete with other manufacturers, but with costs rising over there it is no longer as profitable as it once was."

Read started the company 18 years ago, at the age of 21, from his base in Oswestry, Shropshire. The firm grew to have a turnover of several million pounds annually, but four years ago produced its last clock in the UK.

Yet later this month, production will resume on several models in the UK, and Read believes that the time could be ripe to turn back the clocks and return to British manufacturing.

"We are just starting gently, and seeing how things go," he said. "We could be looking at creating five or ten jobs in the next year or two, but it depends how the market reacts.

"Returning to the UK will mean that costs will increase slightly - but we think that people are maybe ready to back British industry.

"It will mean that we have better control over our products, better copyright, and the ability to bring new ideas to the market faster.

"So many products are coming in from abroad, and much of it is pretty bland. We think that people are beginning to think about where their products come from and turn away from the mass-produced 'Made In China' items, supporting instead unusual, well-designed products made here.

"It's an experiment. But I hope that in our own small way we might make other manufacturers start to think about where they are investing their money."

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