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Will new Channel 4 show Mary’s Bottom Line really be the saviour of British manufacturing?

Mary's Bottom Line

Mary’s Bottom Line

I heard months ago that the TV show in which Mary Portas takes on a factory in Middleton and does her best to save British manufacturing, was going to be called Mary’s Sweatshop. So I am now relieved to hear that it is going to be called Mary’s Bottom Line, and will finally be aired in the UK on the 15th March.

Mary’s show has certainly received lots of press coverage this weekend, including the TelegraphThe Mail and The Standard, all of which tell of how she has breathed new life into Headen & Quarmby, a factory on the outskirts of Manchester that had long since sent all of its manufacturing offshore.

But does British manufacturing really need saving? And has everyone abandoned their machines here in favour of cheaper labour in the Far East?

Whilst we don’t make as much in Britain as we used to, regular readers of this site will know that there are still plenty of designers and brands manufacturing in the UK. In fact, if you believe the Office of National Statistics figures, clothing, lingerie and accessories accounted for over a billion pounds worth goods manufactured in Britain in 2010.

I set up this site to make people aware of these often unsung heroes that have believed all along that manufacturing in the UK was the right thing to do, even when they could have achieved much better profit margins by making their products off-shore – I am therefore very pleased that a high-profile TV figure like Mary is putting British manufacturing in the forefront of people’s minds and creating so much attention around British-made products. And if the comments on some of the newspaper articles over the weekend are anything to go by, there is much support for Mary’s Buy British campaign.

However, it would be a terrible shame if after Mary’s Bottom Line has finished airing, and the first order of 100,000 pants has disappeared from the shelves, British manufacturing gets forgotten about again. Will the big retailers stocking the Kinky Knickers Mary is making in the Headen & Quarmby factory continue to back British manufacturing into 2013? I do hope so.

I also hope that all of those designers and brands that are less high profile than Ms Portas start to get the recognition they deserve for the continued support that they have given our factories all along.

Photo: Clara Molden



  1. cass on March 7, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Buy British – everyone jumping in on this ‘bandwagon’, vital we continue momentum in future years and that’s going to be the challenge

    • KJS on March 29, 2012 at 11:22 pm

      Totally agree 😉

      To ensure longevity, I believe people need to become more label concious starting with things as simple as the food shop and including other goods and services (where possible).

      Folks need to look back at history and understand the damage we (all) allowed to happen when we turned into a throw away society.

      It’s refreshing to see a turn towards “quality” British manufactured goods however the government (T&I) need to do a lot more.

  2. Ben Tobler on March 13, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Sad bastard (bit of a cow) – the chinese will always prevail because they’re much more polite and have infinitely more humility – that’s why the uk will inevitably fail

    • Sue Thomas on April 1, 2012 at 12:38 am

      Unfortunately if you are British,you managed to support your point by being so rude.
      Back on the subject: I Buy British to the best of my ability and can only hope this makes a few more people do the same. Well done Mary for at least highlighting the idea and possibly encouraging more people to Buy British.

  3. Ben Tobler on March 13, 2012 at 6:46 am

    “the saviour of British manufacturing” how utterley naive is that ?

    • KJS on March 29, 2012 at 11:11 pm

      Hmmmmmm perhaps if folks supported British manufacturing a little more…….

  4. Rob W on April 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I do hope that calling the brand ‘Kinky Knickers’ doesn’t kill the project. I guess Mary Portas has way more market insight than I do!

  5. […] me of Mary Portas’s Champion for UK Manufacturing on a recent tv show, also by her was Mary’s Bottom Line  where she tried to raise the importance of UK Manufacturing and homegrown designs.Now let me […]

  6. shirley campion on May 30, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I take my hat off to Mary Portas for her hard work and ability to give some people the opportunity of employment and it does my heart good to see made in Britain. Keep up the good work Mary. Long may you prosper also the genteleman at Kirby who is making cushions in England. Well done! Just one thought though unfortunately I was unable to purchase any of the knickers at the Southport Branch of M & S

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