SMMT News UK Manufacturing

Industry growth provides positive backdrop to SMMT Open Forum

20 September 2013 #SMMT News #UK Manufacturing

Representatives from the UK automotive supply chain were given an insight into the opportunities presented by the industry’s continued growth at the SMMT Open Forum this week.

Around 250 delegates from both OEMs and UK supply chain companies turned out at Worcester Warriors Rugby Club on Wednesday 18 September for a day of presentations from leading industry figures, and to take advantage of what has become a valuable networking opportunity.

The Automotive Sector Strategy provided the main focus of the talks, with Phil Davies from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills keen to highlight the need for greater supply chain presence in the UK to support the strategy.

“The UK currently has a strong supply chain, but with £7.5 billion invested into the automotive sector in the last two years, there is potential for greater market share,” said Davies.

Both vehicle manufacturer and supplier perspectives were provided with James Thompson, Purchasing Manager, Ford of Europe outlining the main criteria for a successful supplier, while Andrew Young, Key Account Manager at successful Tier-two supplier Southco Manufacturing, stressed the importance of communication between suppliers and OEMs.

Young said, “It is vital for any supplier to understand the philosophy and USP of its customer. How individual parts work is critical to the impression of the car as a whole.”

The industry’s feel-good factor was illustrated by Gamil Magal, Chief Executive of Tier-one supplier Magal Engineering. Hit hard by the recession, his company is now on the road to recovery with annual turnover predicted to overtake pre-recession levels next year.

“In 2008, we had to restructure the company very quickly,” said Magal. “It was a difficult time, but now we are growing again by £27.6 million per annum in terms of sales.”

He added, “The SMMT Open Forum really helps us to plan for the future. It’s a great platform for suppliers to share experiences with each other, not to mention communicate with customers.”

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, rounded off the day’s presentations by welcoming the renaissance in the UK automotive industry and stressing the need for a prosperous supply chain.

SMMT’s next supply chain events will be the Open Access series, where engineering and purchasing teams at UK vehicle manufacturers will have the chance to meet a number of UK suppliers. The first of the invite-only events will be Open Access: Ford at Dunton Technical Centre on Tuesday 19 November, with full details of the series to be announced in the coming weeks.

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