Ceramics leaders strongly welcome EU trade deal announcement but Covid-related challenges remain

Ceramics leaders have strongly welcomed the UK-EU trade deal announcement, but warns that Covid-related challenges remain.

The British Ceramic Confederation has been pressing government to agree a deal before the end of the year, as 57% of its members’ exports are currently sent to the EU.

Dr Laura Cohen, Chief Executive of the British Ceramic Confederation, said, “We are hugely relieved that government has agreed a trade deal with the EU. It is essential this is ratified on both sides.

“This is good news for the UK ceramic industry and will give manufacturers some much-needed confidence as they look to recover from the impacts of Covid-19 and continue tackling the challenges of decarbonising while staying internationally competitive.

“We await more essential details from Government on the practical implications. However, at this late stage businesses can do no more to prepare before 1 January. While the deal is not fully comprehensive, it at least provides a foundation to build on in future.”

Dr Cohen added: “This is a very challenging time for the UK and our ceramics industry. We need more focussed support for those supplying into sectors such as hospitality and aviation that will remain badly affected by the pandemic for some time. We continue to call for support for energy-intensive industries on Covid-related energy costs.  Without this many of our members face a bleak 2021.”


Notes to editors

Dr Laura Cohen MBE is available for interview. For further information, please contact her on 07827 358613 or laurac@ceramfed.co.uk

The British Ceramic Confederation is the trade association for the UK ceramic manufacturing industry, representing the common and collective interests of all sectors of the industry. Its member companies cover the full spectrum of ceramic manufacturing, including the supply of materials, and comprise over 90% of the industry’s manufacturing capacity.

British Ceramic Confederation, Federation House, Station Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2SA. www.ceramfed.co.uk

Member Survey Results Update

The results of the confederation’s 2020 annual membership survey are in!

The confederation has a thriving membership representing the wide range of the sector. This is coupled with a long and proud history of more than 25 years representing and protecting our members’ interests. We are an organisation committed to enhancing ceramic manufacturing throughout the UK, with an emphasis on helping our members with the things they value most.

In order to ensure our approaches to achieve these objectives are firmly based on evidence, we conducted our second full membership survey to provide insight on the current top issues facing the sector, gather feedback on our work and events, and seek input on the challenges and opportunities facing our members across a wide range of sub-sectors.

The survey was open for two weeks during October and gathered 58 responses (compared to 56 last year) which represents an excellent 64% response rate and allows us to take the results as broadly representative of our membership body, covering:

  1. Bricks, Clay Roof Tiles and Clay Drainage Pipes (40%)
  2. Tableware and Giftware (28%)
  3. Industrial Ceramics and Refractories (16%)
  4. Sanitaryware, Wall and Floor Tiles (9%)
  5. Suppliers (9%)

There were some similarities with last year’s results across a range of questions around membership views, but as this has been a year of unprecedented challenges, we also saw a number of changes.

Among the good news, membership satisfaction is on the rise – members rating their confederation membership as ‘Essential’ or ‘Important’ has improved by 2% on last year (87% compared to 85% last year), with a 6% increase in members rating their BCC membership as Essential (38% compared to 32% in 2019). One member said, “I think that BCC has done an extraordinary thing in terms of relations with Government (BEIS calls etc) and we punch well above our weight.”

Health and Safety improvement, awareness and compliance came out as the most important area of work for the confederation. However, members comments suggest that Brexit and COVID-19 recovery are the current, short-term biggest issues with challenges like Net Zero and energy/carbon matters being the most important in the longer-term. These areas will now be subjected to new strands of targeted development work, using the survey results as a key evidence base.

Respondents comment positively about our events, stating these are well organised, helpful and useful opportunities for networking and sharing good practice. A few areas for improvement were suggested, with members wishing to see virtual events continuing, and more interactive events, with better opportunities for suggesting topics in advance.

Alongside this, the confederation’s communication channels were highly rated. Member comments are positive about the value of the weekly newsletter as a round-up of current key issues, and the quarterly report as an easy to digest summary of information to update key people across their business. There are also positive comments about the BEIS/BCC Webex calls and the value of bringing the ceramic industry together to distil down government policies. A member commented, “Think the BEIS calls have been excellent.”

In terms of productivity challenges, technological advances and Covid-19 recovery were stated as the main productivity challenges in 2020. Innovation and lack of skills were also a continuing feature of concern.

The majority of respondents (36%) say they are ‘Somewhat confident’ about their prospects for revenue growth in the coming 12 months. However, a quarter (25%) state they are ‘Not so confident’ and 7% are ‘Not at all confident’ with some saying things are still very uncertain, and will depend on a Brexit outcome. Those who were able to give a forecast vary from 5% to 20% growth.

We really value our members taking the time to provide this feedback, and in order to ensure that we continue to provide a means for members to share their feedback with us we have a dedicated email address (bcc@ceramfed.co.uk) that members can use to pass on their reflections on our activities as well as any other ideas or comments.

You can find the full survey report here (please note that you must be logged in as a BCC member).