The top 6 business trends in 2022 for brands that make in the UK

Whilst the last 2 years have shown us that it is almost impossible to predict the unpredictable, having worked with hundreds of small businesses that make in the UK over the last ten years, I can see definite patterns emerging.

In this episode, I cover my top 6 business trends for 2022 for brands that make in the UK.


  • [02:45] The reasons why everyone is turning to local
  • [05:51] Why you need to be clear about how your brand is sustainable and not just saying it is
  • [10:10] How simplicity can be key to running a successful product-based business
  • [14:53] Why you need to be aware of rising cost prices and how to plan for them accordingly
  • [17:54] Why you may need to shake up your current sales and marketing strategy
  • [19:47] How you can take control of your production to get ahead of the competition

If you want to have a successful business, then please don’t stick your head in the sand and hope that none of the following things applies to you.

Look at these trends as opportunities, and think about how you might be able to incorporate them into your business. As well as safeguarding yourself for the future.

Top business tips for brands that made in the UK everything is going local

When I started Make it British eleven years ago, UK-made brands were relatively few and far between. They were businesses that had always made in the UK because it was part of their DNA. Or smaller businesses that used local manufacturing as a stop-gap on the way to China.

But oh how things have changed in the last decade. More than I ever could have predicted.

The combination of the pandemic and Brexit have sped up the transition to make locally. It probably would have happened anyway, but not at such a fast pace.

We’ve seen supply chain issues; the rising cost of importing goods that have occurred as a result of Brexit; and the general disruption that various lockdowns around the world have had on productivity. So it’s not surprising that many brands that had previously been making overseas are now looking to get a foothold in a UK factory.

How does this trend affect your made in UK business?

This has probably been extremely frustrating if you are a business that has been making in the UK for a while. You have probably seen your lead times with your UK manufacturers get longer.

Especially if a reason you made in the UK was due to the advantage of a quicker turnaround.

Be prepared for the fact that this may be the case for a while. But remember it’s still going to be much quicker than waiting for that stock to come from China!

This is why it is also extremely important to build the right relationships with your manufacturers and suppliers. So that you are a valued customer and your business is prioritised.

Now is not the time to be looking around for a different manufacturer in order to save a few pennies. 

Be loyal to your manufacturer in 2022 and it will reap dividends.

Keep them updated with what you are doing. Try to give them a plan or production schedule so they can see what your goals are for the year.

If you’ve not made a plan for 2022 yet then now is probably a good time to do so.

Take a listen to episode 208 for some ideas on how to plan your year.

Top business tips for brands that made in the UK sustainability is the new normal

Have you noticed how the ‘S’ word – sustainability – is now absolutely everywhere?

A bit like using the word ‘British’, many brands are throwing around the word sustainability with gay abandon. They’re hoping that it will gain them a few brownie points with customers, with very little to actually substantiate it.

I was recently walking down Oxford Street in central London where there was a hoarding around a new shop.
It said ‘Ted Baker – aiming to be the most sustainable clothing brand listed on the FTSE 100 by 2030′.

The way they had written it the emphasis was on the most sustainable brand bit so that passers-by would have seen it and possibly be fooled into thinking that Ted Baker was laying claim to already being the most sustainable brand.

Yet a quick look at Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index from 2021 reveals Ted Baker to be far from that. Achieving a score of 21 out of 100, way below ASOS, M&S and Sainsbury’s, who all scored in the 40s.

Still, a long way to go, but substantially better than Ted. Oh dear Ted, what a load of greenwashing!

How does this trend affect your made in UK business?

As a small business, you can do SO much better than the greenwashing done by big brands. Especially if you make in the UK.

Because the word sustainability is becoming so ubiquitous, just like having a made in the UK label on your products, it is not enough of a USP these days to just say that you are a sustainable brand. 

Whether everyone else is using it genuinely or not, you need to be watertight in your explanation to your customers about what sustainability means to your business.

That means being able to explain exactly HOW you are sustainable.

  • Are all of the materials that you useable to be easily recycled at the end of their life?
  • Are all of the people within your supply chain being treated fairly and being paid a fair wage? How do you know?
  • Do you encourage your customers to extend the life of the product that they buy from you? Either by returning it or repairing it?
  • What carbon emissions are produced throughout your whole supply chain? From the way your raw materials are made to the energy that your factory is using?

I read a great book over the Christmas holidays by Aja Barber, called Consumed. It’s a fantastic read for those interested in the very complex world of sustainability in the fashion supply chain.

It’s books like this and campaigns by organisations such as Fashion Revolution that are making consumers much savvier about what sustainability really means. 

If you don’t educate yourself about what is going on in your supply chain, then at some point you will be found out, and that is very bad PR.

So make sure that you use the word sustainable sparingly and wisely.

Top business tips for brands that made in the UK simplicity is key

David Hieatt, founder of Hiut Denim has become synonymous with the phrase ‘do one thing well’. He has even created a list called the ‘Do One Thing Well List’ which highlights a list of companies that subscribe to this way of doing business.

I think there is a lot to be said for this philosophy going into 2022.

The product businesses that I have seen doing consistently well over the last few years have been laser-focused on what they stand for and what they offer their customers.

How does this trend affect your made in UK business?

The more complex your business is, the more difficult it is to pivot when you need to. And in this ever-changing world, it is more important than ever to be able to pivot quickly. Just look at all of the manufacturers that pivoted to making PPE when the pandemic broke out.

Keeping your business simple involves not having a huge collection of products, or trying to appeal to everyone. Doing that just spreads your risk and confuses customers.

Instead, it means knowing exactly who your customers are, and what they want, and offering it to them.

What products and processes can you strip out of your business to make it leaner and simpler?

Do you have a good grip on which of your products are the most profitable for you? Based on not only their cost price but also the time and resources that you invest in them? Also how quickly your stock sells?

If you don’t know the answer to this then that’s a very good indication that you need to simplify things.

I recently did training on how to develop profitable, UK-made products, and on the call, I illustrated how having a smaller range of products made locally can actually make your business more money than if you made a bigger collection overseas.

If you’d like to watch the training you can apply for your invitation and if you’re accepted I’ll send you the link to watch it. Just go to katehills.co.uk/apply and fill out the short form.

business trends for 2022 for brands that made in the UK the price of everything is going up

There is no doubt that the price of products and services is going to go up in 2022. The consumer price index has risen by over 5% meaning that shoppers are going to have to pay more for things across the board.

This may not be SUCH a bad thing for products that are made in the UK.

Although UK manufacturers and suppliers will see costs rising, their increases may not be as high as the additional transportation fees and duties that are added to goods brought in from overseas.

This will mean that the difference between comparable goods made locally, and those made in places such as China, will lessen, and make UK-made goods look less expensive in comparison.

Don’t be fooled into a false sense of security though. This is another of this year’s trends that point towards you needing to be better than ever at planning your business and having a strong grip on what goes on in your supply chain.

How does this trend affect your made in UK business?

If you are importing any raw materials from overseas you need to keep a track of what is going on price-wise, or you may be in for a nasty surprise when you next place an order.

Even if you are using only materials that are grown, spun, processed or manufactured in the UK, the rising cost of energy, estimated to be potentially doubling, is going to have a knock-on effect.

And with the Living Wage going up, which is the salary many workers in manufacturing are paid, UK manufacturing costs are inevitably going to rise too.

Make sure you know your costings inside out, and the country of origin of all of your components, and assess all of your costs regularly to make sure that you are still in profit on every item.

Could you get a different material at a lower price if you need to? 

Are you making enough margin to give you some wiggle room if and when your cost prices do go up?

If your manufacturer says that they are going to have to raise a cost price that they have quoted to you recently, don’t exclaim in horror and start looking for someone cheaper. 

Instead make sure that you work with them to do what is fair and right, for both their business and yours. Especially if you are calling your brand sustainable.

Have a think about how you might communicate price rises to your customer too. It’s far better to explain why and illustrate how your product still offers amazing value for money, rather than try to sweep the increase under the carpet and hope they don’t notice.

business trends for 2022 for brands that made in the UK a shake up in marketing

At the start of the pandemic when everyone switched to working from home, many small businesses that had no offline presence or brick and mortar stores, did very well out of the extra time that lockdown afforded shoppers to browse online.

A combination of a good website and some time spent on Instagram reaped great rewards in 2020. But by the end of 2021 many brands struggled to see the same amount of engagement they had seen previously.

Those businesses that took the leap to book offline shows and events were met with mixed success. 

I know of some UK-made brands that had their best sales ever at some of the events that they showed at in the summer of 2021, but others who had struggled at shows with low footfall towards the end of the year, when a new variant of the virus started to curtail offline shopping.

How does this trend affect your made in UK business?

Take the step of moving away from organic posting on Instagram as a way of driving sales, and instead shake up their marketing efforts by trying video platforms such as TikTok and YouTube.  You will find that there is a whole new audience to be had elsewhere.

If one thing is certain for 2022, fortune certainly favours the brave when it comes to marketing. And if you don’t try new things, you are likely to be left behind.

business trends for 2022 for brands that made in the UK the rise of the factory brand

In last year’s round-up of trends for 2021 I talked about the rise of the micro-factory, and this definitely still holds true as we go into 2022.

Taking control of your own production, and being master of your own destiny, is becoming more compelling to brands as they face longer lead times from manufacturers that are over-stretched and increasingly in demand.

Traditional contract manufacturers have spotted this opportunity too. More and more factories are now launching their own brands, following in the successful footsteps of manufacturers. Examples such as Cooper & Stollbrand that have the successful brand Private White, or Leicester knitwear factory Jackmasters. The brand found success selling direct to consumers with their British Christmas Jumpers collection. Now they have a portfolio of 4 different knitwear brands that they sell B2C, as well as still doing some contract work for other labels, as they have always done.

How does this trend affect your made in UK business?

For small businesses, having the flexibility to make to order on-site can reap great rewards. 

It means you can make more personalised products for your customers, and charge higher prices for it too.

But don’t be lulled into thinking that being a brand factory, or a factory brand,  is an easy option. 

Being the brand owner as well as a factory owner means wearing two totally different hats.

The former means designing the product, as well as knowing how to market and sell it. Whilst being a factory owner entails having a good grip on the technical side of production, as well as excellent project management skills as you manage the flow of work from order to delivery.

business trends for 2022 for brands that made in the UK

In summary

All of the business trends in 2022 for UK-made brands point towards being open-minded and flexible in terms of what is possible.

It’s never been more important to be able to pivot quickly and be willing to try new ideas. Whether that is in terms of the way you make your products, or how you market and sell them.

But you must remember –  everything starts with your customer and never has that been more important than in 2022!

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