Essential Coatings report launch

7 December 2023

On Monday, PDA Chief Executive, Neil Ogilvie attended the British Coatings Federation’s Essential Coatings reception and launch of their new report at the House of Commons.

New BCF report highlights essential coatings contribution to economy

  • British Coatings Federation (BCF), representing more than 140 members that contribute £4 billion annually to the UK economy and export £1 billion of products a year, says enabling sectors of critical importance must be included in any holistic Government-led manufacturing strategy.
  • Downstream companies worth £300 billion a year rely on coatings products, says BCF, without which innumerable sectors, including those identified by Government in its Advanced Manufacturing Plan – aerospace, automotive, green energy, and life sciences – would be unable to achieve their potential.
  • The BCF has outlined five key asks of the Government to ensure the coatings sector is able to thrive and maximise its contribution to the UK economy.
  • Coatings are used within virtually every industry, to make products better, safer, and more effective. The range of industries that rely on coatings includes: construction; automotive and transport; healthcare and hospitals; industrial and manufacturing; design and branding; entertainment and leisure; food and drink; aerospace and defence; printing and packaging; home appliances and technology; fencing, flooring and furniture.

The British Coatings Federation (BCF) today urges Government to produce an integrated industrial strategy that embraces the ‘enabler’ industries that have long been the bedrock of the British economy and that empower the success of other manufacturing sectors in the UK. This follows the publication of a new Government Advanced Manufacturing Plan which focuses on prioritised industries, including green energy, aerospace and automotive. 

While the Plan references ‘supply chains’, the BCF says more could be done to remember the critical role played by other parts of manufacturing, not just supporting the ‘advanced’ sectors prioritised in the plan, but in their stand-alone contribution to the economy, job creation, and balance of trade.

Launching 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 UK manufacturing. 

The report makes clear through case studies that almost all sectors of British industry require products created by the coatings sector to operate, with downstream companies worth £300 billion a year relying on coatings products. 

The BCF has outlined five key asks of the Government to ensure the coatings sector is able to thrive and maximise its contribution to the UK 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 greater focus on improving post-Brexit trade, all of which will help build a more stable foundation to deliver continued growth and success for the industry.

Tom Bowtell, Chief Executive of the BCF, said:

“We are incredibly proud as an industry to be supporting the UK across such a breadth of important sectors, improving the lives of people across the country. 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. 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 UK 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 UK economy and society.

“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, in setting such plans 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 recognised in an integrated industrial strategy that supports all areas of British business. 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 UK 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, MPs and Peers. 

Through a range of case studies, the Essential Coatings report highlights how coatings are essential to consumers and industry alike. Coatings – decorative paints, industrial coatings, printing inks, and wallcoverings – are everywhere, enabling the advancement of industries, including aerospace and defence, infrastructure and energy, healthcare, and hygiene – increasing longevity, preventing decay and corrosion, and enhancing the safety of the products and surfaces they are applied to. 

The report also explores how coatings facilitate effective communication and creativity, helping us – as individuals and groups – to better understand each other, develop ideas, or set ourselves apart. As human beings, a world without coatings would not only be a less functional one, but also much duller place.

Essential Coatings’ case studies are divided into four key themes that demonstrate the value of the UK 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: a net exporter, a generator of jobs and an integral contributor to the UK economy.