Pilkington's switch from St Helens to Brussels could mark a pattern. Peter Wilsher.
Pilkington's decision to move a large part of its headquarters operation from St Helens to Brussels may well turn out to be a landmark in Britain's industrial history. For the first time a major manufacturing company, long intimately linked, and in this case almost inextricably identified with a particular geographical location in the UK, has seen no alternative to pulling up its roots and transferring them to the European mainland. It is perhaps the starkest warning yet of the "peripherality" that threatens increasingly to erode the economic raison d'etre of these offshore islands.