All the Key Facts You Need to Know about UK’s Manufacturing Sector


The UK holds the reputation as one of a leading manufacturing nations in the world, with a worldwide acknowledgment in its engineering, automotive, aerospace and pharmaceutical industries. Today’s UK manufacturing sector employs over 2.6 million people, and contributes more than £150 billion to the UK’s economy each year, representing nearly 11% of nation’s economic output. UK is currently the 11th largest manufacturing nation in the world, the sector is also responsible for over 72% of UK R&D investment and accounts for over 44% of nation’s exports. Due to growing competition, businesses are using networking websites like BizVibe’s manufacturing industry portal to find quality business partners. So whether you are looking for importers, exporters or manufacturers there is a place for you to start on BizVibe.

UK manufacturing output
UK manufacturing output declined since 2013

According to the report from the Manufacturer, although the industry declined since the 1970s when manufacturing shared 25% of UK GDP, the UK still ranks in the second place globally for manufacturing aerospace products. In 2014, the UK-based automotive industry had its best year in car sales in nearly a decade – selling 1.28 million cars during the period, an increase of 10% compared to the same period in 2013. While the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors contribute £20m per day to the UK balance of trade. The overall UK manufacturing industry has had an average productivity increase of 3.6% per year over the last few years – two and a half times bigger than the UK economy as a whole.

Overview of UK manufacturing, according to EEF:

UK’s total manufacturing output reached $219 billion in 2013

2.6 million people are employed in UK manufacturing sector

Contributes 10% of country’s Gross Value Added

Represents 44% of UK’s total exports

Responsible for 69% of business research and development

Share of 15% of country’s total business investment

Figures and facts by sector:

UK Aerospace Industry

111,000+ direct jobs and 120,000 indirect jobs

£29bn annual revenue

17% global market share

90% of revenue from export markets

UK Aerospace industry is growing ten times faster than any other industries in UK

Currently have stock of over 11,000 aircraft and 20,000 engines, worth more than £150bn

UK Automotive Industry

161,000+ direct jobs and 78,000 employed in the country’s auto supply chain

2,000+ automotive industry suppliers and British car manufacturers in the UK – including 16 of world’s top 20

£64.1bn annual revenue

80% of a vehicle is made in the UK

5 million cars and 2.4 million engines built in 2014

Contributes over £12.4 bn to the UK economy every year

£34bn of exports per year – accounting for 11% of the UK’s total export goods

UK Pharmaceutical Industry

Over 53,000 people directly employed

23,000 jobs in related research and development

One of the largest manufacturing export sectors worth £20.7bn export value

UK Construction Industry

1m direct jobs and annually provides up to 80,000 new jobs

Annually adds £92bn+ to the UK economy, accounting for 6.4% of nation’s total economic output

Almost 50% of employers in the building services and engineering industry take part in the apprenticeship scheme

UK Defence Industry

46,000 direct employees, and almost the same number in indirect jobs

Employs over 4,900 apprentices and trainees

£22bn annual revenue

The UK is the world’s second largest defence exporter behind the US

Over 34% export growth between 2009 – 2013

9,000+ defence companies including SMEs operating in the UK

BAE Systems – the UK’s biggest defence company – currently employs 40,000 people in UK

UK Electronic Industry

800,000+ direct jobs

£78bn annual revenue

95% of the sectors 6,000 businesses are small and medium sized

UK Electronics industry is the world’s fifth largest in terms of production

14 of the world’s biggest 20 semiconductor companies have their design or manufacturing sites in the UK

In semiconductors, 80% of the production comes from foreign direct investment

UK Energy Industry

Over 680,000 direct jobs

Annually contributes £5,7bn to the UK economy

£13.1bn investment in infrastructure in 2013

Renewable energy, including wind; wave; marine; hydro; biomass, and solar, accounts for over 7% of the UK’s electricity, expected to increase to around 20-25% by 2020

UK Food & Drink Industry

400,000+ direct jobs – predicted to need almost 110,000 new employees by 2022

Annually adds £21.5bn to the UK economy

Food manufacturing in UK epresents 16% of nationa’s total manufacturing revenue – making it the largest sector

96% of the sector’s 6,360 food manufacturing companies are small and medium-sized

Exports £12.8bn+ products a year – 77% of which go to the EU

Invested £1bn+ into R&D in 2011, resulting in over 8,500 new products

UK Furniture Industry

115,000+ direct jobs and 190,000+ indirect jobs

Annually adds over £9.4bn to the UK economy

84% of the 8,360 companies’ turnover less than £1m a year, 59% less than £250,000

UK Plastics Industry

180,000+ direct jobs

£19bn annual turnover

7,500 companies in the sector

35% of manufactured plastics products are exported – worth over £6.7bn

5m tonnes of plastics raw materials produced every year

UK Steel Industry

30,000 direct jobs

54% of UK Steel employees work in Yorkshire and the Humber, or Wales

Annually adds £9.5bn to the country’s economy

Exports valued £4.9bn in 2013

Over 1m tonnes of output in 2014

The value of the industry has declined by nearly 24% since 1990

More wasted steel is recovered in the UK and recycled than all other materials combined

Every tonne of scrap recycled by the industry saves 1.9 tonnes of iron ore and 0.6 tonnes of coal

UK Textile Industry

340,000+ direct employments across 79,000+ companies

Contributes over £11.5bn to the UK economy every year

Gross value added (GVA) per head recorded at an average of £34,220

Third-largest fashion industry in the EU – after Italy and Germany

British consumers spend almost £55bn on the high street fashion every year

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