Most manufacturers enjoy sales growth but remain cautious on future prospects

November 26, 2013

Sales have increased for more than half the West’s small to medium-sized West manufacturers over the past six months, with just over a third also experiencing an increase in inquiries and orders.

The upbeat picture emerges from the Manufacturing Advisory Service’s latest Barometer, which also reveals a slight rise in the number of companies looking to take on staff, which now stands at 40%.

However, the quarterly survey also reveals an air of caution among respondents on future sales, although 42% say they plan to increase their spending on new technology over the next six months.

The increase in firms reporting sales growth was 4% on the previous quarter, taking it to 57%. Stronger sales, order books and inquiry levels were reported by 35%.

Simon Howes, regional director of MAS, which is funded by the Government to provide business support to help manufacturers improve and grow, said: “Our latest Barometer results highlight the flexibility, adaptability and resilience of West manufacturers, many of which continue to thrive despite the difficult trading conditions in recent years.

“The findings also mirror the encouraging figures recently reported by the Office for National Statistics, which revealed an increase in manufacturing output between July and September.

“However, our survey also provides some evidence that expectations of sales growth are somewhat cautious, with companies slightly lowering their sales forecasts for the coming six months compared to the previous quarter.

“This is a time for manufacturers to review their business and product strategies, generate new product ideas and identify market opportunities to ensure that they can fully grasp the opportunities presented by the improved economic outlook.”

However, he said it was vital that businesses frequently reviewed their recruitment plans to ensure they had enough skilled workers.

“A lack of available skills could directly hinder growth as the economic recovery starts to take full effect,” he said.

Business minister Michael Fallon said: “These findings are another sign that the economy is heading in the right direction and confidence is returning as we move from rescue to recovery. The Government is committed to helping SMEs grow which is why we are saving companies around £1bn through removing unnecessary red tape, cutting corporation tax and establishing a business bank to diversify the choice of lending available to SMEs.”







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