Although we are thankfully now out of recession as a national economy, news coming from Britain about the recovery continues to be decidedly mixed. It's a little like taking two steps forward and one step back at the moment, which is probably understandable, given that we've experienced the worst turmoil as a nation since the Great Depression.
The manufacturing sector - obviously of interest to us - is one that displays regular ups and downs. For example, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) discovered back in April that manufacturing output grew by one per cent between January and February, which was great news in what is typically a tricky time after Christmas.
Meanwhile, it recently said that output is higher now than it was in the late 1970s, allaying any cynicism from naysayers who claimed Britain was losing its prowess as a manufacturing hub.
Chief economist Joe Grice commented: "There are several factors at work: a better quality and more skilled workforce; a shift from the production of low- to high-productivity goods; an improvement in the information technology base; more investment in research and development; and a more integrated global economy."
However, the statistics also show that manufacturing as a share of GDP has dropped from more than 32 per cent in 1970 to just 12 per cent today. In 1980, a quarter of jobs were in the manufacturing sector, while this figure had dipped to 8.2 per cent by 2010.
At a speech to the Manufacturing Technology Centre earlier this year, chancellor George Osborne acknowledged that the climate has been tricky - and that some people claim Britain's manufacturing days are over; that we can no longer compete.
But he begged to differ, pointing out that 49,000 new jobs have been created in the West Midlands alone over the past four years.
"The government needs to unashamedly back those parts of the economy that are a British success story. We must never again neglect our great manufacturing industry. Britain needs to make things again. We are doing the things that are needed to put British manufacturing at the heart of Britain's recovery," the chancellor said.
How H&W is proud to be British
It can be difficult for UK businesses to stand out in an era where cheapness is often sought out over quality. However, we believe that sticking to the traditions and processes that make a firm quintessentially British can help to show everyone that you have staying power and aim to go that extra mile for your customers.
For example, we're proud to be able to say at Heyland & Whittle that our factory is still based in England and that we continue to make our soaps and other products in the same way we always have - using the cold-processed method, handmade at every stage.
We also aim to support other British firms by sourcing the ingredients we need as close to home as possible. For instance, our carefully selected fragrances are created by a company in England, passing on homegrown success further down the supply chain.
As a customer, you'll find that tradition, style and authenticity are at the heart of everything we do, which people have told us really shows in both our products and our service.
So, although manufacturing may not be completely out of the woods just yet, we're proud to be supporting the sector as it makes its way back to growth - we want to show those naysayers that we're one British success story among many more.