Growth in Gasket and Sealing Sector Despite a Challenging Year

Simon Winfield, Chairman of the UK Gasket & Sealing Association (UKGSA) and director of MacLellan Rubber, shares his reflections on 2021 and looks ahead to 2022.

Despite the challenges of the last two years, UKGSA Members have continued to invest in and improve their businesses with many seeing growth in 2021 and forecasting further growth in 2022.

Our Members service a diverse range of industries from Electronics to Utilities, Offshore Engineering to Construction and many more besides, and whilst many have seen declines in some sectors both at home and abroad, they have responded with new innovative products or by pursuing new markets.

Social distancing measures impacted events earlier in the year, but our Annual Golf Day and Charity Dinner in September was well attended, attracting new guests to the event. Members welcomed catching up face to face and a number of companies have since joined the Association to benefit from networking with Members, technical support and collaborative opportunities.

Sentiment during the year has varied between Members and, as you might expect for world-class manufacturing businesses, their approach to dealing with Brexit; new International Trade Deals, and more recently Supply Chain challenges that have seen raw material prices spiral by 20 – 50% or more and lead times expand beyond any normal expectations, has been robust and assertive. Many are positive about the opportunities that a UK uncoupled from the legislative bonds of Europe offer, others more concerned about competition from unregulated parts of the world undermining the quality of products or unfair, low cost sources devaluing core markets.

The industry as a whole is facing significant challenges, even beyond those of the financial crash, and these on their own threaten to undermine much of the advancement that our Members have achieved. In our most recent Members survey, their main concerns were:

  • Shortages of Raw Material
  • Monthly raw material price increases
  • Sky rocketing shipping costs into and out of the UK
  • Additional administration costs for exporting and importing
  • Shipping delays

All of these issues weaken UK PLC as a supplier to world and, whilst everyone is in the same position and legislators will undoubtedly point to market forces, the risk for our Members is higher than for lower cost markets.

It is of course not all bad news. UK PLC has a great reputation around the world and our Members are some of the best innovative, high quality, customer focused manufacturers in the UK. They have continued to grow their businesses by focusing on and promoting those strengths world-wide, often working in partnership with other Members to provide a comprehensive package to their customers.

2022 doesn’t look to be offering much respite from these challenging times, but our Members see opportunities in any situation and we expect to be reporting on their further successes throughout the coming year.

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