What the Autumn Statement Means for British Craft and North Wales

What the Autumn Statement Means for British Craft and North Wales

In this guest editorial, Mark Boddington, the founder and chairman of Silverlining Furniture, reflects on the chancellor’s announcement of Wrexham and Flintshire as a new Investment Zone with £80 million in funding.

Wales has long been a supporter of high-value creative sector jobs, with a growing reputation for its highly skilled workers and creative businesses that are an antidote to mass manufacturing.

Mark Boddington sat at a desk
Mark Boddington.

As mass manufacturing is taken over by AI and robotics very soon, it’s the creative jobs that will secure employment growth. This will be especially seen in jobs that require highly technical hand skills – from marquetry to leatherwork, embossing to carving.

More and more niche manufacturing companies see the benefit of highly skilled workers in the UK and indeed bringing back overseas manufacturing to the UK – Bremont Watches is one such example.

The creative sector is particularly attractive in the post-Covid era, with workers seeking personal fulfilment, creative expression, and flexible working hours. Mass production can’t provide these.

At Silverlining, we’re committed to the development of British niche manufacturing with our forthcoming investment of £8 million in the Silverlining Centre of Excellence – a new HQ, workshop, academy, and visitor centre, with our new site in North Wales, announced in 2024.

The expansion will generate 28 new jobs and is predicted to bring over £7 million to the local Welsh economy. With these rapid expansion plans, 2023 already saw us increase its workforce by 12%, with a focus on craftsmanship skills and business leadership, to drive the company’s growth.

Members of the design team working on their computers

The Wrexham Industrial Estate – where we’re based now – is home to over 300 businesses, generating 10,000 jobs. Since we came to the estate in 2013 – with the Welsh government’s investment – it has become one of the leading industrial parks in the UK and, indeed, Europe.

Additionally, the acquisition of the football club by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney and the “Welcome to Wrexham” documentary has brought a buzz to the city and surrounding area.

Today’s announcement further supports our ambitions, growth plans, and investment in British creativity.

A man adjusting designs at his work bench

About Silverlining Furniture
Established more than 35 years ago, Silverlining is the leading name in furniture making. The company has gathered a following among global aesthetes thanks to its progressive design ethos that combines time-honoured craftsmanship techniques with the latest technologies.

From the company base in Wrexham, North Wales, Silverlining’s 70-strong team of designers, makers, project managers, and other specialists seek out the finest materials – from rare woods and exquisite leathers to precious metals – and draw on the best of old and new techniques to conjure them into extraordinary pieces. They call it ‘making magic’.

Silverlining is the double winner of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, recognised for its international trade success and product innovation.

Learn more about Silverlining Furniture on their website, www.silverliningfurniture.com.

What the Autumn Statement Means for British Craft and North Wales 2

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