Following the news last month that Magmatic has bought production of Trunki suitcases from China to the UK, other suppliers in the toy industry have agreed that more support is needed in the area.
Founder of Magmatic, Rob Law, was disappointed to find ‘zero’ Government support when moving his manufacturing base. He said: “I couldn’t find a single grant to help. I was more than a little bit astounded after hearing Cameron and Osborne preaching that the UK should be doing more manufacturing.
“This lack of grant support, coupled with the scheduled reductions in the Annual Investment and Writing Down Allowances in April 2012, will undoubtedly affect our ability to bring more of our products back to the UK for production in the future.”
However, the benefits of ‘home production’ are many. Andrew Finan, director of Kloo, which sources 80 per cent of its products in the UK, explained: “Sourcing in the UK means we are on the same time zone, have the same language and can have face to face meetings.
“In essence we develop a real business relationship that goes beyond just cost comparison. If orders are complex and nuanced, then clear and open communications and regular meetings are essential.”
Hannah Holmes, asset manager of Merrythought, which produces all its lines in the UK, added: “There are also the obvious benefits of supporting the British economy, providing much needed employment opportunities and safeguarding production skills for future generations.”
Kate Armitage, marketing director at Gibsons Games, said: “We benefit from shorter lead times meaning we are able to respond quickly to any sudden changes in demand.”
The majority agree that further help is required. Holmes told ToyNews: “There is still a place for UK toy manufacturing but I can’t see it ever getting back to what it once was. I do think that the Government should do more to safeguard existing companies and encourage those that would like to get a foothold in UK production before it’s too late.”
Simon Newbery, MD of Orchard Toys, agreed: “Our customers both here and overseas tell us that ‘Made in Britain’ is important to them, but I can fully understand that for many, the numbers simply don’t stack up.”
Some believe such requests aren’t realistic, but other types of support would help the industry. Gary Wyatt, MD, The Green Board Game Co, said: “One suggestion could be to offer capital allowances for new machinery and environmentally-friendly machinery such as cardboard compactors, so that as much waste as possible is recycled.”