Since their acquisition two years ago of the former Ideal Standard production facility in Middlewich, Ours Sanitary Ware has developed a successful OEM business supplying bathroom sanitaryware to several companies around the globe. The achievement of a sustainable high volume level of production from OEM customers and its own sister company Impulse Bathrooms, recently led to the firing up of the continuous fire tunnel kiln.
The transfer of moulds for Impulse Bathrooms domestic range from the China production plant was an early priority and almost all of Impulse Bathrooms products have since been made in Middlewich.
As bathrooms group managing director Jan Klomp clearly stated at the time of the acquisition, the perceived cost benefits of manufacturing in China were being eroded because of sharply rising labour costs, the disproportionate cost of energy in China, freight costs, an ever increasing burden of indirect taxation on foreign owned enterprises and a shortage of labour on the coastal areas as jobs are available in inner regions nearer peoples’ existing homes because China prioritises growth in the inner regions.
Jan’s prediction that industries would begin to relocate away from China and other perceived low production cost countries has certainly come to pass and Ours Sanitary Ware, has now closed its Chinese production facility transferring all manufacturing to Middlewich.
“Since my forecast a couple of years ago, the situation in the global marketplace has also changed radically” adds Jan “Chinese industry has downgraded its expectations as the effects of the general World economic difficulties have eventually impacted in China too. This has led to cut price trading by Chinese companies into certain markets, notably Australia and the pacific rim, supplying product at prices which are unachievable – often even below cost, for properly structured manufacturers with associated overheads. The bottom end of these markets is now therefore being supplied by low-cost producers – often without western working conditions. However Ours Sanitary Ware is now supplying these same markets with mid-upper price point products because this sector prefers to buy British which it sees as representing top quality and Ours Sanitary Ware is now developing a very strong business in these countries on this basis.”
As Ours Sanitary Ware global manufacturing director Brian Standbridge says “We took the decision firstly to reduce the capacity in China and now to fully close the plant completely on issues of economy, convenience and speed. Over the last 18 months since starting manufacture at Middlewich we have proved the decision correct on all aspects.”
As an early pioneer of the return to the UK as an economical geographical location for production and distribution to the western world, Ours Sanitary Ware fully expect to see this trend becoming more popular.