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Will submarine manufacturing benefit regional supply chain?


In our latest article on manufacturing growth, Nick Booth, head of Harrison Drury’s manufacturing and engineering team, examines the opportunities for the North West supply chain arising from new submarine development at Cumbria’s Barrow shipyard.

New programme means fresh opportunities

A multi-million pound investment in the development of a new breed of Trident nuclear submarines at Barrow shipyard heralds significant opportunities for local supply chain manufacturers.

The Ministry of Defence has announced that BAE Systems will be awarded £201m to develop submarines to replace the current Vanguard class nuclear fleet by early 2030.

How the investment will generate growth

The submarines are to be designed at BAE System’s Barrow shipyard, which currently employs around 7,000 staff and supports many more thousands of jobs in an extensive supply chain.

The Trident nuclear deterrent is a very divisive political issue, but there is no doubt that this new deal, announced recently by defence secretary Michael Fallon, will be an effective growth generator for many businesses in the manufacturing and engineering sector.

Moreover, it is likely to have a significant positive impact on the local economy in and around Barrow where so many jobs depend on the continued success of its shipyard.

Challenges of growth must be met before rewards can be reaped

A massive and technically complex programme of this nature inevitably requires businesses in the supply chain to be operationally efficient and commercially focused.

It’s a fact of business life that fast-growth companies are often at greater risk than firms which are happy to carry on ticking over. This is because growth requires expanding capacity to take on major new orders as well as working with different customers and suppliers.

As a result, investment is frequently necessary and payment gaps can create cashflow issues. Furthermore, in a technically complex area such as submarine development, manufacturing and design errors can have far-reaching implications.

This means it has never been more important for growing manufacturing and engineering businesses to ensure their terms and conditions of payment are as watertight as possible, and their contracts are legally robust.

Nick Booth is head of Harrison Drury’s specialist manufacturing and engineering team which advises businesses on a wide range of legal issues and commercial pressures.

Our manufacturing lawyers and engineering solicitors can advise in areas including supply chain and logistical challenges, regulation, consolidation and growth decisions, technology and innovation, brand protection and intellectual property issues, product liability, funding, and skills and workforce development.

For more advice or support contact Nick on 01772 258321.

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