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The times, they are a changing, so sang Bob Dylan over 50 years ago.

That sentiment is as true now as it was in 1964, certainly for the UK’s manufacturing sector. The country’s steel industry faces troubling times, the global marketplace continuing to threaten its viability, and Britain’s membership of the European Union hangs in the balance with a referendum on the issue on 23 June.

Now is undoubtedly a period of great uncertainty for the UK’s manufacturers and we review some of the challenges faced by the sector here whilst looking at the implications for the sector of the so-called Brexit. The headline is this: the next 12 months will have impact upon the sector for generations to come.

In places, major changes have already hit home. The Modern Slavery Act came into force last year, bringing with it onerous requirements for many UK manufacturers which we explore in detail on here, at the same time offering practical steps on what manufacturers can do to ensure their compliance with the new Act.

In this edition, our sector specialists also consider the importance of governing law clauses in contracts, sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences, and the consequences for a supplier or customer in the event of a link in the supply chain becoming insolvent.

Despite the headlines being around the perils faced by the sector, optimism is abundant. The Markit/PMI index score indicates an inclination towards further growth and the sector as a whole continues to be ripe for corporate deals; our review of M&A activity in the sector shows a particularly healthy appetite amongst foreign investors for UK manufacturers, with deal activity in the sector up 5% from the previous year.

The lure of the UK’s manufacturers will be on-show at Aubaine Mayfair in London on 20 April when we host a number of private equity houses and sector leaders at the Directorbank Industrials event. Meanwhile, the issue of enticing “tomorrow’s engineers” into the sector will be the focal point of our breakfast seminar the same day, co-hosted with the Insider at the Holiday Inn Rotherham-Sheffield.

With this edition, we also take the opportunity to introduce you to the sector specialists who have joined our team following our merger with Thomas Eggar in late 2015, bringing with them a wealth of experience in the manufacturing sector. Andrew Jackson, who joins our Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution team in London, shines the spotlight on the supermarket supply chain in his article here, will join us alongside Phillip Gray in our Real Estate team.

The integration of our colleagues at Thomas Eggar will significantly enhance our offering to manufacturing clients in London and the South East and we are extremely proud of our continued growth having now created a £250m-turnover firm with over 2,800 staff able to service our clients from 17 locations across the UK.

In this issue.