New Report Shows Importance of Coatings to U.K. Economy

From left, Tom Bowtell, CEO of BCF; Sharon Harte, president of BCF; Paul Scully MP; and David Park, public affairs manager at BCF.

The British Coatings Federation (BCF) (Coventry, United Kingdom) is urging U.K. government leaders to produce an integrated industrial strategy to embrace what it calls “enabler” industries. According to BCF, these industries have long been the bedrock of the British economy, and they empower the success of other U.K. manufacturing sectors.

This push follows the publication of the U.K. government’s new Advanced Manufacturing Plan, which focuses on prioritized industries such as green energy, aerospace, and automotive.

While that plan references supply chains, BCF says more can be done to remember the critical role played by other parts of manufacturing. This can incorporate both the advanced sectors prioritized in the plan and their standalone contributions to the economy, job creation, and balance of trade.

Through the launch of its Essential Coatings report, which highlights the breadth of applications of the coatings sector and its critical contribution to a wide range of advanced industries, the BCF said a holistic approach is needed to ensure a bright future for U.K. manufacturing.

The report makes clear through case studies that almost all sectors of British indugstry require products created by the coatings sector to operate. As one example, downstream companies worth £300 billion annually frequently rely on coatings products.

Five Key Requests

In its report, the BCF outlined five key requests of the Government to ensure the coatings sector is able to thrive and maximize its contributions to the U.K. economy. These include the need for regulatory and policy clarity and certainty for chemicals; a long-term industrial strategy for manufacturing; support for businesses in the transition to net-zero; a long-term focus on skills and training, and a greater focus on improving post-Brexit trade.

All of these requests are to help build a more stable foundation to deliver continued growth and industry success, according to BCF.

“We are incredibly proud as an industry to be supporting the U.K. across such a breadth of important sectors, improving the lives of people across the country,” says Tom Bowtell, CEO of BCF. “From the development of solar panels to increasing hygiene in hospitals, we within the industry know the vital work that we do.”

“Coatings are a British success story,” Bowtell adds. “Our members employ 14,000 in good quality jobs around the country, contributing £4 billion a year to UK GDP. And we are proud that the U.K. coatings sector is a net exporter, securing £1 billion of business a year around the world. Our new Essential Coatings report is all about sharing this crucial impact with a wider audience, explaining just how important our sector is to the U.K. economy and soci,ety.”

“Building on our successful past and present, our sector looks to the future, and we welcome the government’s recently published plan for advanced manufacturing. However, we must make sure that the multiplier, or enabler, industries—without which these advanced sectors could not function—are not left behind. The critical role of coatings, for instance, is evident in that downstream companies worth £300 billion a year rely on our products.”

“This holistic reality needs to be recognized in an integrated industrial strategy that supports all areas of British business,” Bowtell concludes. “Aerospace, automotive, green energy, life sciences—all of these sectors rely on our members coatings and inks in one way or another to achieve their own successful end-result products, as well as on other key products from across the U.K. manufacturing supply chain.”

A parliamentary reception was held at the House of Commons to launch the report, hosted by Paul Scully MP and attended by 100 guests including leaders from the coatings sector; representatives from other trade associations; and representatives from Parliament.

Range of Case Studies

Through a range of case studies, BCF says its Essential Coatings report aims to show how coatings are essential to consumers and industry alike.

Coatings—including decorative paints, industrial coatings, printing inks, and wallcoverings—are everywhere, enabling the advancement of industries. These include aerospace and defense, infrastructure and energy, healthcare, and hygiene.

The benefits of these coatings include increasing longevity; preventing decay and corrosion; and enhancing the safety of products and surfaces they are applied to.

The BCF report also explores how coatings use can facilitate effective communication and creativity. Case studies are divided into four key themes, all aimed at demonstrating the value of the U.K. coatings sector:

  • Essentiality: Coatings are everywhere, in and on everything and critical to the functioning of daily life. 
  • Liveability: Coatings protect, enrich, and enhance the beauty of the world around us, and enable communication and self-expression.
  • Sustainability: Coatings play an essential role in the transition to a sustainable future: prolonging the life of goods, vehicles, and infrastructure; protecting and enabling renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels; and helping improve fuel efficiency. 
  • Economy: The sector is one of the country’s manufacturing success stories as a net exporter, a generator of jobs, and an integral contributor to the U.K. economy.

About BCF

The British Coatings Federation is a trade association for the U.K. coatings industry, and it represents manufacturers of paint, specialty coatings, printing inks, and wallcoverings.

The BCF helps its members to better understand the news, rules, and regulations emerging from government and lobbies on various issues of concern to the businesses working in this area.

The association shows leadership across the sector, all while pushing for and supporting modernization and change in areas such as sustainability and diversity and inclusion.

Some of BCF’s campaigning is also focused on informing consumers, as they often have their own role to play in making sure products are used or disposed of in safe and appropriate ways.

Source: BCF,

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