27/02/2014 Midlands Today


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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today, coming live from Telford, in


Shropshire. Tonight, we'll be looking at just


how much we still make here in the Midlands.


Manufacturing is on the up once again, but by how much? I think the


West Midlands economy, given the surge in manufacturing and exports,


would be in the region of 5`6%. In this hall, we have brought together


101 things, all made in the Midlands, from tanks to teddy bears


and plenty in between. The West Midlands is the export Centre for


the UK. Half of the British exports. We look back at some of the things


we used to make which we can be rightly proud of.


And we look forward to where jobs in the future might come from.


So all types of things for all types of conditions, and that is perhaps


appropriate with the weather that is heading our way.


Good evening from the International Centre in Telford. We've got a very


different programme for you, as we examine the health of manufacturing


in the Midlands ` once known as the workshop of the world.


We suffered more than anywhere else when manufacturing became


unfashionable. Tens of thousands of jobs disappeared in this region. But


now it's seen as essential once again that we design, make and sell


more. And there's evidence that's


happening. Nationally, growth this year is expected to hit 2% or so and


that's a welcome change. But latest predictions for the West Midlands


suggest that growth here could be double that, perhaps even 5%. And it


will be manufacturing led. In a moment, I'll be talking to


entrepeneur and former Trade Minister Lord Digby Jones, who's


spent a lifetime in industry in the region.


But first, our business correspondent Peter Plisner on how


it all began just a few miles from here at the birthplace of the


industrial revolution. The famous Ironbridge, known the


world over. Now a popular tourist attraction in an area dubbed "the


birthplace of the Industrial Revolution". That is because it was


here that Abraham Darby perfected a cheaper way of making I am. It was


an innovation that quickly spread. Initially to places like the nearby


Black Country, which became one of the most heavily industrialised


areas of the UK. It was the engine room of the entire economy. It drove


British expansion and it drove, really, the British Empire. But like


many areas that saw rapid growth, the Black Country also suffered


economic decline. The closure of the Round Oak Steel Works was a major


blow. It's now the site of the Merry Hill Shopping Centre. The decline


continued, with metal`bashing moving abroad where Labour was cheaper. But


nothing was safe. There was uproar when production of the famous HP


sauce was moved from Birmingham to Holland and the factory was


demolished. Manufacturing companies, when they have looked to offshore


within Europe, they have gone to central and Asian Europe, in the


Slovakia and eastern Europe, they are a fraction of what they are


here. Globally, they have looked further afield and in many cases,


gone to China to Salisbury cheap components where Labour costs are


much lower. But there's evidence that some manufacturing is returning


to the Midlands. Management at this Birmingham engineering firm has


moved an entire factory back from Hungary. We didn't expect to do it.


Arguably, it was quite frustrating, having gone out there with the best


of intentions, but you have to keep reinventing your strategy and moving


on. But reshoring, as it's called, isn't the only reason there's


growth. Success at companies like Jaguar Land Rover and JCB has also


helped to boost the fortunes of the region's components suppliers. And


this is one of them. At this car `based `` car seat maker in Tipton,


recession hit hard but now they are seeing orders up to an increase of


30%. When I first started, it was quite small and now it is absolutely


stretched. The progress has been quite something, it is all good. I


have worked here for six years and they keep on employing and employing


unemployed. It all means that the West Midlands now accounts for


around 7% of UK output and the region also has the countries


fastest growth in exports. `` country's. Nationally, we are


expecting growth of two `3% and I think the West Midlands economy,


given the surge in growth and exports, will be in the region of


5`6%. The Business Secretary Vince Cable


says the strong performance here is helping the recovery. Half of


British exports, certainly of goods, originate in the West Midlands and


it is now growing rapidly and it is based on the emerging markets. And


if this recovery that we are experiencing is going to be kept


going, and it must be that the sake of the country, it has got to be


export `based. It is going to be increasingly manufacturing base and


the West Midlands, more than any other part of the country, is going


to deliver that. Innovation is often key to survival


and some firms have simply been left behind. At the Cash's factory in


Coventry, there's a long history of labels for clothes. But recently the


company went bust. Its administrator says after a recession, some firms


still struggle. What tends to happen is that as you are coming out of a


recession, businesses start to grow, which is obviously a good


thing. But growth as a result of more orders, again a good thing, but


that growth requires funding and funding can be very difficult to get


after a recession because lenders are still nervous.


But other firms have survived the recession by making niche products.


Back near Ironbridge, this cycle maker is one of them. The skills


that we have a very specialist, it is something you cannot outsource to


the Far East. When we started framed building in the 1980s, there were


probably 200 frame builders in the UK. Now there are about 20.


In the past, the West Midlands was a powerhouse of the UK economy. Now,


with strong growth in exports once again, it's the region's


manufacturers that are leading the way ` this time out of recession.


With this now is the former director`general of the CBI, Lord


Digby Jones, former government minister and the chairman of the


company that makes this Triumph bikes. What about Vince Cable saying


that West Midlands Manufacturing is so important for the whole country?


Speaking yes and well done, you guys, for celebrating tonight,


because we need the media and the schools to push that message all the


time. It is coming from a Cabinet Minister, what could be better? You


have roadster, Longbridge, Castle Bromwich, commentary, Solihull ``


commentary. Wherever you are watching, we are leaders in the


recovery and are balancing the economy back into manufacturing. And


in the report it said that growth could be double the national


average. It is realistic and it is done on the back of exporting to


emerging markets. It is about export. About making things. And the


demise of manufacturing was because we made things that weren't good


enough for people who didn't want to buy them who were selling on price,


where someone in China is going to beat you. Now these things are all


sold on value added. Price is important but it is not what gets


you there, it is brand, it is "want to have" , quality and innovation.


That is why it is sustainable. Emerging middle class is


sustainable. Emerging middle classes in commentary, Brazil, `` in Brazil


or China, they wanted to show these things are. We have this tank here,


it is a massive innovation of skills, we couldn't show everything,


but why did things go bad for manufacturing? I think there was


complacency after the war, we felt we didn't have to trike anymore but


the rest of the world was catching up. Awful, dreadful trade union


attitudes, which is so different to today. If you look around, it is


fully unionised, just down the road in Wolverhampton, 1400 jobs at the


engine plant, all unionised but it would never have happened 30 years


ago. Awful industrial relations and poor quality. Birmingham City


Council announced grand ambitious plans around where HS2 is about to


commit. A sign of confidence question mark tremendous side. I


have always said do not listen to politicians, always look at what


they are going to do. If they sign the checked Birmingham, it is great


news for watching the programme. Get yourself a skill and believe in the


region. Lord Digby Jones, thank you. One industry that has really


struggled over recent years as the pottery business, around


Stoke`on`Trent, but one company in amongst all that has done really


well, the Portmeirion Group. They have survived and Sarah Plimbley is


here to talk about it. What has been the key? I think for Portmeirion, it


is a quality product that at price people can afford. I don't think it


is a coincidence that those companies who are doing well now are


the ones who have maintained a UK manufacturing base. How important is


customer loyalty? Essential. If you think you have someone buying


tableware, that is an investment for life. We want them to stay with us


for the whole time, enjoying their time around tables. Sarah, thank you


very much. You're watching a special edition of


Midlands Today, trying to gauge how manufacturing businesses are doing


across the region. I am joined by the bosses of three very different


companies. We are all sitting on COBRA chairs made right here in


Telford and you might have seen them in the dugouts at football grounds


around the country. Jason, if I can turn to you first, the chair of


Institute of Directors and eastern foods. Are you finding the right


people and the right skills? It is difficult to find the right people.


We have 30 apprentices we have employed and over the last two


years, we have only retain seven, so there is complexity in getting hold


of the right skilled people and getting the right words are fake.


The West Midlands is vital in the export market. What about in East


End Foods? Have you got a healthy export? We are very proud to be


producing everything in the UK. What we find is we are exporting to 30


countries, including India. The value of brand Britain around the


world is absolutely amazing and we are able to sell very easily all


around the world. You are nodding at that, you supply components for the


car industry amongst other things. You benefited hugely from the


expansion of like your agenda `` Jaguar Land Rover. Had you make sure


you don't have all of your eggs one basket? We help to supply parts for


every single model and there are further plans ahead to increase


their models, so we don't think we have. What is your growth forecast?


Since the start of the recession, millennium has doubled in size and


we will grow another third this year, and it will be ongoing. What


is it down to? The opportunity the growth in the industry has given us


but we are also seeing growth in construction and we won a new


contract in the construction sector. So there is a renaissance in


construction? I think it will grow this year more than it has done


previously. Thank you very much indeed. So it does sound as though


there are indeed reasons to be cheerful about the growth in the


West Midlands, which seems to be really pushing the economic revival


right across the country. We can be proud of the things the


Midlands has made. This double`decker Metro Cammel bus, made


in Birmingham, is a popular exhibit at The Transport Museum at Wythall.


If not a bus. What about this? The Reliant Robin. Del boy and Rodney,


made of fibreglass in Tamworth. And look at this absolute beauty.


Everyone aspire to one of these, boy racers such as myself. The E`Type


Jag, made in Coventry, and often voted the most beautiful car ever


made. This one is owned by Nigel Harper. Hello. Why is it so


special? Enzo Ferrari said that the E type Jaguar was the most beautiful


car in the world and 50 years later, it was the only car that


appeared in the design Museum in London. I think that just proves how


the design has stood the test of time. Speak like how old is this?


1966. How much is it worth? ?150,000. Nigel, thank you very


much. From the E type jack to this little


fellow. `` Jaguar. The Mini changed everything when it rolled off the


production line in Birmingham in 1959. Transverse engine, front`wheel


drive, trendy and you could get the family in at a squeeze. Five million


were made, making the Mini the best`selling British car of all


time. And as Sarah Falkland has been finding out, they turned up in all


sorts of places. The marvellous Mini. Made in


Longbridge, thrashed in the Italian Job. But it was a single


Birmingham`made Morris commercial van that gave us the film's immortal


line. You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off. Coventry`made


black cabs, good enough for us and for royalty. But did you know that


Stephen Fry and Kate Moss have one of their own? And the flamboyant


King of Tonga used to tour his island state in one? Midlands motors


cope well in hot climates, though. Lara Croft knew that. Solihull`based


Land Rover even brought out a Tomb Raider limited`edition Defender.


It was craftmanship in Cradley Heath, though, that made the chains


and anchors for the ill`fated Titanic.


WHISTLE. It's comforting to think that


Midlands`made whistles helped in the rescue operation. Out came this


whistle. Kate Winslet, heroine, Rose, blew it. And on it, clearly,


blown up before me big on the screen, it said "Acme Thunderer,


made in England". Which was the first I knew about it. Forward 30


years and Birmingham`made Spitfires helped save thousands of lives.


Designed by RJ Mitchell from Kidsgrove, in Staffordshire, the


Spitfire achieved fame in the Battle of Britain. Over 12,000 rolled out


of the factory at Castle Bromwich. Here is where your salvage, your


saucepans and shillings and pence have, under the magic wand of


industry, become part and parcel of the finest fighting aircraft in the


world. She could fly higher and faster than anything else and was


the envy of the Germans. If only the Meriden`made Triumph motorbike could


have got Steve McQueen away from the Nazis, his escape would have been


truly great. No denying the greatness of this man. Did you know


that Winston Churchill was buried in a coffin with fittings made at the


Newman Brothers factory in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter? So


too was Princess Diana. In her youth, she'd famously whizzed around


Kensington in a Longbridge`built Mini Metro. But royalty's links with


Midlands manufacturing went back way before then. The Queen nearly always


has a custom`made Launer handbag on her arm. These are the girls in


Walsall who make them. For decades, Her Majesty played safe with beige


and black. But then a couple of years ago, she started experimenting


with colour and sales here at Launer went through the roof.


Even in black and white, Birmingham chocolate`maker Cadbury quadrupled


sales for their Flake with a winning ad formula. Light, crumbly,


heavenly. Pretty girl, scenic backdrop and more than a hint of


suggestion. And Hurst comes in. Finally, another


starring performance from Acme Whistles. 1966 was the year.


England's disputed World Cup goal made official in a single blast. A


timepiece of Midlands manufacturing that helped make footballing


history. All made in the Midlands. Now, look


at this, this is called a violectra, an electric violin and


that is worth ?4000. It was handmade in Moseley in Birmingham. This is


what it sounds like in the hands of an Aston Villa fan and fiddler


supreme Nigel Kennedy. Manufacturing thrives on good ideas.


Like this clever design to put in your garden, made in Warwickshire.


Very stylish, guaranteed to get the neighbours talking and, as you can


see, you can turn it to catch the sun. A brilliant idea, but where are


the next great ideas coming from that will create the jobs of the


future? Our science correspondent David Gregory Kumar has been


investigating. Frozen Blood. New ways make silicon


chips and hydrogen cars. All products of Tomorrow's World. And


all part of a ?50 million project, the Science City Research Alliance,


involving the University of Birmingham, the University of


Warwick and Industry. Science City cash helped buy this equipment and


pay for this lab. Giant magnets providing industry with insights


into everything from ice cream to catalytic converters for cars. It's


a great facility. It offers a lot. The big picture is to try and reduce


the cost of these catalysts whilst trying to maximise efficiency.


Better catalytic converters is good news for our car`makers. But Science


City doesn't just work with established companies, it encourages


scientists to set up companies of their own. And that could also be


very good news for the region. We do have a company. We spun out


Irresistible Materials in 2011. There is a company that is based


actually in the middle that we are actively talking to at the moment


about how we develop this technology them. So in five years, Science City


means almost 500 jobs created and safeguarded. 12 new businesses


formed. 1,000 academic papers published. But also two of our


strongest research universities working together for the first time.


There has to be impact of this research and quite rightly so,


something the taxpayer sees as a return on their investment in


science. And so a lot of the emphasis of the people involved in


this programme has been to make these collaborations with industry,


so that there is a product at the end of that there is a real impact


of a company that is generating wealth in this region. No more ivory


towers. The future is about turning our best cutting edge research into


products, companies and jobs. Goal`line technology, there is an


invention that was somewhat controversial when it first came


back, . Four years ago, we feature Duncan Williams goal`line technology


per rugby and how as it progressed? It has moved forward a lot, American


football have taken it. It is moving forward and in the right way.


Talkers through it. It provides an electronic invisible curtain,


covered by lasers. When you break them, you score, as simple as that.


We have used it in military technology, it is well proven. And


it puts an end to arguments. So while you wait for the RFU to make


up their mind, what are you working on? Yes, they take a while. We're


working on stress`related equipment for the medical industry.


Stress`related equipment is superb and it is what the World Health


Organisation advocate all over the world, really successful and going


places. You can find out more from RIA technology, on the Facebook page


`` I ate technology. I'm going to put this to the test. Steffan


Hildred, top scorer but Telford this season, is wearing the right kit.


Take it away. Let's make that 214 points this


season. Well done, a couple of points there


and want to raise over here about the Microcab. John Jostins is the


Chief Executive of the company and a professor at Coventry University.


How does this work? It is powered by hydrogen fuel cells. It is an


electric vehicle but it makes its own electricity on`board using


hydrogen gas stored in a tank, which is then fed to the fuel cell and


combined with oxygen over platinum, creating electricity. Essentially,


it is powered by hydrogen. Is it going to take off? We get a lot of


question about hydrogen. It is a perfectly save fuel, stored in a


compressed tank. Has it been taken up yet? It is early stage. The


Microcab remade, along with Coventry University, is to look into the


future of low carbon mobility and transport and this is one aspect we


are experimenting with. John, thank you very much.


What is made in the rule all areas of the West Midlands is a vital part


of the economy and I have a great example here `` rural. You are the


oldest licensed brewery in the country, Three Tuns. How have you


managed to weather the storm? We produce unique beers because we old


recipes and old yeast that dates back to about 1880, I mean, like you


say... So that is the yeast that keeps on giving? Yes, you added to


each brew and then take it off that brew and added to the next. We


talked about export but you can't get involved in that because it


doesn't travel so well. No, we mostly supply the local area but we


do get a lot of people coming from America to look at our brewery,


because it is very old. Josh, you are an apprentice, are you enjoying


it? I am, really enjoying it and Steve is a great teacher. So happy


brewing, chaps. But it is not just be that we make, lots of alcohol


there, and food, we talked about the East End foods, don't forget


oatcakes from Staffordshire and Cadburys chocolate, I vaguely


recognise the face, but I'm not sure about the teeth.


I am very flattered, I am not certain about the team. It is time


for the weather now. Shefali is sitting in a motor boat, so I


suppose we will get the shipping forecast.


Not quite, thankfully I won't be talking about them this week but


this little boat, called Fletcher if you know their boats, perfect for


skipping across the surface of receding waters. But we do have more


rain on the way in the next 12`18 hours because that area of low


pressure I mention at the beginning of the week, that always had the


potential to cause problems, looks like it will do. It is cutting


across the southern half of the country, clipping the southern part


of our region and bringing up 20 millimetres of rain at most, but


that is quite a bit, and it is going to bring in snow as well. The area


is turning colder, so we have warning service over the rush hour


tomorrow morning. Could produce about two centimetres over lower


levels and certainly over areas above 300 metres, but only for the


southern and western part of the region. We start tonight with clear


skies and there will be pockets of Frost, and as the cloud thickens up


ahead of this area of rain, it will creep into southern parts of the


region, producing some snow, as I said, in those areas and during the


first part of tomorrow morning. That is when it is going to be fairly


treacherous but further north, in Staffordshire, you probably won't


notice anything. Some sunshine to be had there. Their name a Morceli and


drive starts `` anymore sunny and dry start. Frost overnight and into


the start on Saturday. You don't get to take it home, I'm


afraid. We all joined again by Lord Digby Jones. If there is one message


you could give to the Government that will help all of the businesses


across the West Midlands continue to grow, what would it be? We need more


and better skilled people. The West Midlands has got the youngest


population in the country and the lowest skills base in the country. I


say that with shame, not private. But all of this, everything you have


just been talking to all of these people about, it is value added,


quality brand innovation. You can't do that if you haven't got skilled


people. In the old days, it didn't matter if you couldn't read, write,


you were in the steel could, under a car planned career didn't need


skills. Today, you need a Ph.D. S in rocket science can be just need to


be able to read, write, count and operate a computer and if we don't


have an education system that turns kids out at 16 can do that, every


small business person watching this will say, "I know what you mean, I


can't get skilled people. " That is the biggest challenge the region


has. What about the companies themselves question mark work with


your local school, work with your local college. May be `` but


whatever you do, export. All of this is about exporting. Have the


courage, so what you got, you are good at it. We will have to leave it


there, thank you. We have been so proud to show you


what is made in evidence, I'm sorry we show you everything.


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