The firm said China was better value for manufacturing, but rising costs there had diminished its advantage. Devonia say costs are not the only benefit of moving production to the UK.

Eastern Counties Leather had been sending its sheepskins out to China and then shipping them back to the UK once they were tanned.

Ben Rudkin, from the Devonia Sheepskins tannery, said: “We’re able to get our customers to come from London or wherever they need to come from, to come down and actually look at the skins themselves and say ‘Well this is exactly what I’m looking for, but can we tweak it this way and that way?’ and then they take what they need.”

Economists and business analysts say there is a change under way in the UK’s relationship with China – particularly when it comes to more basic types of manufacturing.

Nigel Jump, of Strategic Economics, said this is something that always happens sooner or later with developing economies.

“As their wages get closer to ours, the differential in cost that we have suffered from for the last 10 years starts to reverse and transport costs and other costs become more important, so we can compete with those companies now,” he said.

But while some sheepskin production is coming back to the UK, other companies are finding they still need to work with Asian companies.

Source: BBC