New manufacturing hub opens in Wolverhampton

MANUFACTURERS in the West Midlands will need more cohesive support to remain competitive, it has been claimed.

The support network for the crucial industry was dealt a hammer blow at the end of last year when the Government unexpectedly pulled the plug on the Manufacturing Advisory Service.

Firms have since complained about the lack of support and guidance available to them, with worried opportunities for growth could shrink as a result.

This is corroborated in a new report from NatWest – Future Fit: the road ahead for UK manufacturing – which the bank is using as the basis for a new push to try and support the sector.

To this end, NatWest has now opened a new manufacturing hub in Wolverhampton, the aim of which is to create an ‘ecosystem’ where companies from across the region can support each other and grow.
Richard Hill, Head of Manufacturing & Automotive at NatWest, said: “Our research clearly indicates that for the UK’s medium-sized manufacturing segment to be ready for the changes the sector will face in the next five to ten years, they’ll need a more cohesive support structure and more networking and mentorship initiatives.

“The research showed businesses can feel disconnected or even isolated from the wider supply chain and industry, and this hub aims to create an ecosystem where manufacturers and industry stakeholders from across the region can connect, network and support each other.”

The hub, at Broadlands on the Wolverhampton Business Park, was opened by NatWest’s Head of Corporate & Commercial Coverage, Andy Gray. The launch event brought together a number of local manufacturers and others connected with the wider industry, including the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and Dudley College.
Mr Gray said: “Our hub is a great way to get the local manufacturing community together. Not only can they use this platform to learn from each other, but we also get to hear directly from them what they need to grow and succeed. That information helps us make sure we’re offering the most relevant support to help them achieve their ambitions.”
Matthew Grainger, CEO of Bridgnorth-based castings business Grainger& Worrall, contributed to the Future Fit report.

He said: “As medium-sized businesses we often get tied up in the day-to-day world with the phones going all the time. It’s extremely valuable to have the chance to stop that for a while, get in a room with your peers and have those strategic discussions that keep you moving forward.”
From left: Richard Hill, Head of Manufacturing & Automotive, Andrew Harrison, Managing Director of Midlands & East England, Corporate & Commercial Banking, Keith White, Head of Infrastructure & Industrials, and Andy Gray, Head of Corporate and Commercial Coverage, all NatWest.