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UK Manufacturing Statistics

UK Manufacturing Statistics

 Manufacturing contributes £6.7tr to the global economy. Contrary to common belief, UK manufacturing is strong with the UK currently the 11th largest manufacturing nation in the world. Manufacturing makes up 11% of UK GVA and 54% of UK exports and directly employs 2.6 million people.

Despite the decline since the 1970s, when manufacturing contributed 25% of UK GDP, the UK ranks second globally in aerospace manufacturing. In the half-year from January to June 2014, the UK-based car industry had its best year in new car sales in 9 years.

Approximately 1.28 million new cars were sold during the period, a rise of 10% compared to the same period in 2013. While the chemical and pharmaceutical industries add £20m per day to the UK balance of trade. Underpinning these important statistics is an average annual productivity increase of 3.6% – two and a half times greater than the UK economy as a whole.

 Although the contribution of manufacturing to GDP has declined on paper, many of the services provided to manufacturers which would have once been considered part of manufacturing, such as catering, cleaning, building services, security etc, are now allocated into different areas of the economy. However, those contributions are directly reliant on manufacturing for continued business and could actually be considered as a part of manufacturing’s GDP input.
RankCountry/Region(Millions of $US)Year
European Union2,312,7232013
2United States1,800,5002011
5South Korea370,3932013
11United Kingdom219,0362013

Countries by Manufacturing output using the most recent known data thanks to The World Bank and Wikipedia.

UK Balance of Trade

UK exports suppliers manufacturers UK balance of trade

UK balance of trade


UK Manufacturing 2015 – The Facts

Key findings from The Annual Manufacturing Report 2015


UK manufacturing needs more skilled workers. Just under 90% of respondents said they have multiple vacancies and more than one-third said they have 10 or more. UK Manufacturing is prepared to give youngsters a chance: nearly nine out of 10 (87%) respondents said they had given a first job to a school, Further Education (FE) college leaver, or university graduate.

UK Economy

Three-quarters of UK manufacturers are “quite optimistic” about the British economy over the coming 12-36 months and 85% believe that the government is managing the general economy well (exceptionally well 4%; very well 19%; moderately well 63%).

Product development, customer satisfaction, quality

Manufacturers identified new product development/innovation (79%) and improving customer relationship management (75%) as key business focuses over the past 12 months. They remain the lead priorities for 2015 as well. The key performance indicators for measuring success are led by customer satisfaction/retention (88%); quality reputation (79%), profits growth (77%); and operational efficiencies and cost control (73%).

Automating production

Investment in automation has been strong for a few years and is now reaching very high levels; three-quarters (75%) of respondents said they had invested in automation over the past five years. The main drivers are business efficiency, reduced cycle time and improved quality. Improving health and safety and the working environment are also key concerns.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of firms are regularly spending over £100,000/yr on automation projects. A similar percentage said that they intend to spend the same or more in 2015. The increase in Annual Investment allowance (AIA) to £500,000 appears to have encouraged the replenishment and modernisation of Britain’s production base.


Investment in ICT (information and communications technology) has rebounded strongly in the past 12 months; 71% said they had spent more in the current financial year than the previous one and just over half (51%) said they expect to spend more again, in 2015. Businesses have been upgrading their existing infrastructure (27%) in the drive to improve analytics and reporting (40%); planning and scheduling and workforce management (36% each); supply chain management and customer relations (29% each) heading the list of priorities.

Statistics by Sector

British Aerospace Industry

UK export commodity-trading-and-logistics Beth Pickering, Airbus in the UK

Beth Pickering, Airbus in the UK, Broughton

  • 100,000+ direct jobs in UK Aerospace
  • ADS has over 850 members (from SMEs to globals)
  • Annual earnings = £24.2bn
  • Revenue: £12.4bn
  • 75% of turnover to export markets
  • 17% global market share

British Automotive Industry

UK export commodity-trading-and-logistics Jaguar-Land-Rover-
A worker at the Jaguar Land Rover plant helps put together a Range Rover Evoque.
  • More than 550 UK members of SMMT
  • £6bn investment in past two years
  • 2.6 million cars registered in the UK 2013
  • Two out of the top 10 selling cars for 2013, the Vauxhall Astra (4th) and the Nissan Qashqai (6th), are made in the UK, while the Ford Fiesta was the UK’s best selling car.
  • 1.58m vehicles (81% exported) and 2.5m engines (62% exported) made in the UK last year
  • 2,350 automotive suppliers in UK, employing 82,000 people
  • Typically £55bn annual turnover
  • £27bn revenue in 2011
  • 720,000 employed across automotive industry, 140,000 directly employed in manufacturing
  • More than 75,000 young people employed as apprentices over the last 5 years. 18,000 in automotive retail at any one time

British Chemical Industry

UK export commodity-trading-and-logistics Baker-hughes
The Baker Hughes Eco-Centre facility can process in excess of 30,000 tonnes (33,000 tons) of drill cuttings and 14,000 cubic meters (3.7 million gallons) of liquid waste, or slops, annually.
  • £60bn revenue in 2012
  • 600,000 people are currently employed in the industry
  • Represents 15% of UK manufacturing GVA
  • Has an average employee cost of £42,000 per head
  • Added £20m to the UK balance of trade every day for the last twenty years

(Information courtesy of

British Construction Industry

UK export commodity-trading-and-logistics spiral-construction-design
Spiral Construction are the UK’s leading manufacturer of spiral and helical staircases and have been nominated by Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives
  • 1 in 14 of the UK workforce is employed in construction – nearly 2 million people
  • Provides 88,000 new job opportunities yearly
  • Employs just under 200,000 women in the sector
  • More than 35% of construction employees run their own companies
  • More than a quarter of employers have recruited a school leaver in the last 2-3 years
  • Nearly 50% of employers in the building services engineering industry take part in the modern apprenticeship scheme

British Defence Industry

BAE Systems Ambush submarine.
  • £35bn annual UK turnover
  • The UK is the world’s second biggest defence exporter behind the US
  • Employs 300,000 overall in the UK
  • 9,000 defence companies including small businesses exist in the UK
  • BAE Systems – the UK’s largest defence company – currently employs 40,000 domestically
  • 10% of UK manufacturing is made up by defence

British Electronics Industry

UK export commodity-trading-and-logistics Unison-pipe-bending
A British firm has made the world’s largest all-electric pipe bender.
  • Worth £78bn a year
  • Is the world’s fifth largest in terms of production
  • Employs over 850,000 people
  • This makes up 2.9% of the UK’s workforce
  • In semiconductors, almost 80% of the activity comes from foreign direct investment
  • The UK is home to 40% of Europe’s semiconductor design houses

British Food & Drink Industry

UK export commodity-trading-and-logistics CadburyFingers
Manufacturing of Cadbury biscuits
  • Turnover of £76bn in 2012, the UK’s largest manufacturing sector
  • Accounts for 15% of all UK manufacturing GVA
  • Employs 400,000 workers domestically, 15% of manufacturing workforce
  • Exports over £12bn of food and non-alcoholic drink products a year, 77% of which go to the EU
  • Invested over £1bn in to R&D in 2011, resulting in over 8,500 new products
  • Businesses have reduced rate of injuries by over 50% over the last 20 years

(Information courtesy of

British Furniture Industry

  • Over 100,000 employees within the trade
  • UK market set to surpass £15bn by 2018
  • £10.73bn revenue in 2012
  • 7.5% of overall furniture sales are made online, a figure which is increasing
  • Living room furniture dominates the market share by as much as 90%

(Information courtesy of The Chesterfield Company)

British Plastics Industry

UK export commodity-trading-and-logistics ECO-Plastics-sorting-facility
The ECO Plastics sorting facility.
  • 7,500 companies in the sector
  • £19bn turnover
  • Exports valued at £6.7bn
  • 35% of manufactured plastics products exported
  • Employs 180,000 people
  • 2.5m tonnes of plastics materials produced annually

(Information courtesy of

British Steel Industry

UK export commodity-trading-and-logistics Landscape_-Man-of-Steel
An artist’s impression of Man of Steel sculpture, South Yorkshire
  • Contributed £2.9bn to the UK balance of trade in 2011
  • More waste steel is recovered in the UK and recycled than all other materials combined
  • Each tonne of scrap recycled by the industry saves 1.9 tonnes of iron ore and 0.6 tonnes of coal

(Stats courtesy of

British Textile Industry

  • Comprises over 79,000 businesses, employing over 340,000 people
  • Gross value added for the sector in the UK is estimated at over £11.5 billion, with GVA per head measured at an average of £34,220

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