Tired of waiting for industrial strategy


As the wait for a coherent industrial strategy continues, eight manufacturing SMEs have responded by launching their own MANifesto today.

The Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), which comprises seven subcontract manufacturers and an engineering design agency, has responded to the Government’s faltering strategic vision for industry by delivering their own blueprint for making the country globally  competitive.

Bosses believe the four pillars of Investment, People, International Trade and Sustainability & Net Zero should form the overarching approach and will form the guiding principles for the individual businesses inside the collective.

They’re now calling on the powers in Whitehall to do their bit to facilitate growth by providing tailored support and in removing some of the bureaucratic barriers currently in place.

Austin Owens, founder of Grove Design and Co-Chair of MAN, commented: “UK manufacturing has come through Brexit and Covid-19 in remarkably good shape, but this is more to do with our innovation, our technical expertise and our quality than it has to do with a clear Industrial Strategy.

“We got tired of waiting for Government to develop a vision like they benefit from in other countries, so decided to create our own MANifesto that will guide the future development of the eight firms and, in our opinion, the sector as a whole.”

He continued: “These four pillars have been developed in partnership with members and focus on People (developing skills, attracting the next generation of engineers and ensuring safe and supportive workplaces) and boosting International Trade through easier access to funded export support, a Government commitment to boost reshoring and ringfencing infrastructure spend so the UK benefits.”

The third pillar of the MANifesto is a commitment to Investment, and this covers specialist assistance to accelerate automation, digitalisation and technology, not to mention more funding support for R&D/product development and dedicated assistance to aid energy intensive industries to upgrade equipment.

Sustainability and Net Zero is the final element of the vision and arguably the biggest talking point in business at the moment.

There are two main strands to this pillar, including supporting UK manufacturing to commercialise greener products and technologies and the potential for a specialist fund to make factories more sustainable and to accelerate decarbonisation.

Peter Davies, CEO of James Lister & Sons and Co-Chair of MAN Group, went on to add: “This isn’t eight manufacturers coming out with a begging bowl for Government to fill, in fact it’s the opposite.

“We believe the MANifesto outlines clear, short and long-term objectives and many of these we can achieve on our own. We’re just asking for a level playing field to compete on and some simple enablers to ensure our competitiveness.

“In fact, we’d love nothing more than Ministers to get in touch and work with us on developing some of our pillars into something more sustainable for industry as a whole.”

The Manufacturing Assembly Network works together to encourage collaboration, best practice sharing and to promote UK manufacturing.

It is made up of Alucast, Brandauer, Grove Design, James Lister & Sons, KimberMills International, Muller Holdings, Nemco and PP Control & Automation.

Collectively, the group boasts annual sales in excess of £95m, employs more than 1000 people and exports products to over 50 countries from its 20+ factories.

MAN can also call upon the R&D and technological expertise of Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), who has been an associate member since 2014.

This leverages the best in academia with the best in industry and is an important partnership in helping companies develop new markets and explore new opportunities, as well as providing a ready-made proving ground for WMG’s business support offering.

The MANifesto in full.  It calls for:


  1. Direct funding for technical apprenticeships, graduates and upskilling existing staff that reaches all part of the supply chain, in order to futureproof skills for years to come and encourage lifelong learning
  2. Leveraging of links with academia to attract and deliver more young people into manufacturing and develop the leaders of tomorrow
  3. A commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, increasing engagement with under-represented groups, including but not limited to ethnic minorities, women and those who are less able
  4. Balanced wellbeing in the workplace and ensuring there is mental health support for all

International Trade

  1. A Government commitment to support reshoring by encouraging inward investment and subsidising export activity designed to bring work back
  2. UK Government infrastructure spend to be ring-fenced for the UK
  3. Increased supply chain security by strategic investment in capability building and attracting global OEM and tier 1 activity
  4. Easier access to funded support that grows international trade


  1. Specialist assistance to accelerate the implementation of automation, digitalisation and technology
  2. Development of tailored, straightforward, easy to access manufacturing support programmes to replace EU-funded initiatives
  3. National level R&D investment and product development support, backed up by flexible funding that is free of red tape
  4. More freedom and funding to support investment in R&D and new product development
  5. Funded support to aid energy intensive industries to upgrade to high efficiency equipment, and the development of a long-term energy security policy

Sustainability & Net Zero

  1. New ways of supporting UK manufacturing innovation to create greener products and technologies for all sectors
  2. Access to investment to make factories greener and support to accelerate industrial decarbonisation
  3. A national business energy efficiency programme to help UK manufacturers beat the energy crisis and decarbonise.


Photo: MDs and young engineers from the MAN Group launch the MANifesto at WMG in Coventry