Handmade Crafts Blog

The toils of being a UK manufacturer

15/09/2014 - Poly Postal Packaging

Poly Postal Packaging

We were contacted recently by Poly Postal Packaging Ltd, who asked us if we'd be interested in working with them for a guest blog (or two) - and upon seeing that they are a UK based manufacturer who do their very best to keep as much of their business as possible in the UK - bucking the current trend of outsourcing where possible - we said yes!

We're always keen to publish interesting guest posts and when they suggested writing a piece about the difficulties involved in running a manufacturing business here in the UK, we felt it would resonate with our audience (you!) and is suitably on topic as most of us who sell handmade goods have to pack and post them, anyway! So here it is. And please remember to get in touch if you'd like to write a guest post yourself!

The toils of being a UK manufacturer

Why is it that some manufacturers are flourishing in the UK whilst others are floundering and struggling to keep their business afloat? As a manufacturing business it makes us wonder. We've worked hard to get where we are today at Poly Postal Packaging but we can’t deny it hasn’t been a struggle at times, like a number of companies, we've sweated and slogged with the best of UK manufacturers and worried about the future on quite a few occasions.

Being a UK manufacturer isn't easy, there are plenty of challenges to face as you plug away and obstacles to overcome but we adapt, dust ourselves down during the bad times and enjoy providing an essential service to our customers.

Many businesses still face uncertain futures in the UK. We look at a few of the trials and tribulations a company might face if they work in the manufacturing sector in this latest blog post.


No matter what type of business you run there are going to other manufacturing companies in direct competition with you, how you deal with it enables you to stand out in crowded marketplace. Manufacturers can't afford to stand still in a thriving business environment, they have to constantly up their game, avoid complacency and track competitor changes to stay one step ahead of the pack. There are various methods to adopt to stay ahead of the competition and they include:

  • Knowing who the competition is
  • Knowing what customers want
  • Nurturing existing clients
  • Attracting new customers
  • Effective marketing
  • Renewing your brand image
  • Looking after employees
  • Planning for future growth


Advances in technology help to improve productivity and reduce labour costs. Businesses need to remain competitive in the field of technology but there is a trade off, it's hard to keep up with new improvements without a sizeable cash flow behind you.

A good business plan helps in this area. It enables a company to create policies that take the future requirements of the business into consideration and they can devise a strategy which enables the business to invest in new technology as and when the need arises.

From IT systems to manufacturing equipment supported by software, businesses have to find a way of moving with the times and balancing the books at the same time.


A healthy, happy workforce is the backbone of UK manufacturing. Without a loyal workforce behind you to support you though all aspects of the manufacturing process the business will quickly grind to a halt.

Case studies show that it has become increasingly difficult to attract and retain quality employees without a high level of input from the company.

Common issues include...

  • Unauthorised absenteeism
  • Unreliability
  • Poor work ethic
  • Lack of skills

Ways to attract and maintain a happy workforce involve...

  • Investing in training
  • Providing safe working conditions
  • Promoting and endorsing a happy work environment
  • Offering good pay
  • Taking a greater interest in worker wellbeing

The threat from outsourcing

UK manufacturers are constantly under the threat of being undercut by overseas operations as well. Customers try to take advantage of cheaper quotes from overseas manufacturers, little realising the quality of the product is often far inferior, particularly when cheap raw materials are used. 

Manage a manufacturing business in the UK and you face a large number of challenges. Overcome these challenges and all the hard work is worth it. You make a profit (hopefully), you provide excellent service levels and you receive positive feedback from your customers which makes it all worthwhile...

Here's an idea. If you’re a UK based business why not support home-grown manufacturers like Poly Postal Packaging?

Buy direct from a UK manufacturer. The quality and service levels will be excellent and it's good to support them, they’ve been through toils and tribulations to be where they are now!

Comments (1)

Gravatar for Steve Berkly

Very true, thanks for the article

Posted by Steve Berkly on 14/10/2014 19:35:44

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