“Responsible sourcing is key to survival of the UK lighting industry”
– Jeremy Quantrill, joint managing director of Dernier & Hamlyn
These days many of us try to be more informed about how the food we eat has been produced and the clothes we wear have been manufactured. But can the same be said of the way that lighting is specified and purchased? If you have responsibility for procuring or designing lighting do you think about where it has been produced and what that means for the people involved and for the wider UK economy? As a lighting manufacturer, which has been around since 1888, we are clearly keen to promote the “buy British” message. Obviously we would prefer that all lighting was made here and we welcome anyone to visit our factory. However, even we acknowledge that sometimes for various reasons we or other British manufacturers may not be the best solution to your lighting needs. And we grudgingly accept that! But what we object to is companies that purport to be British manufacturers who in actual fact only assemble parts made overseas, or worse still, bring in complete lighting fittings from overseas, make a minimal change and put a sticker on them that pretends they were made here.
Thankfully we live in a democracy where no one is forced to buy their lighting from any particular suppliers. But all purchasers and designers should be able to make informed choices based on true and reliable information rather than being duped by companies making false claims.
Making conscious efforts to work with UK manufacturers whenever it is possible to do so has an impact on the state of the nation by safeguarding jobs which means that these people have money to spend, increasing the likelihood of new and refurbished buildings needing the services of designers and lighting companies. So it’s a win win situation for all involved. Added to that the “Made in Britain” brand is extremely strong in certain parts of the world so it’s not about being parochial, it’s about knowing what suits your clients and your business but in a way that is honest and truthful. Then there is the control that working with UK manufacturers gives you. Many of the projects we work on are complex and it is only by sitting down with the designers, and sometimes involving the clients too, that we can develop solutions that meet their aesthetic, environmental and legal requirements. And whilst some contracts may be able to make do with off the shelf lighting from an unknown manufacturer who may or may not have dubious sourcing ethics or employment practices, we strongly believe that is worth greater consideration for the wider implications of your buying decisions.
So it’s up to you. Maybe this has made you stop and think and encouraged you to reconsider whether made in the UK can mean that just some elements of the lighting you are buying can be put together here. Or whether it really should mean that it is actually produced here and it’s your responsibility to ask questions and put suitable checks in place.