UK small manufacturers see even more growth
New CBI data shows that small manufacturers in the UK have seen a year of continual growth.
The past few months have seen wave after wave of data showing that the outlook for UK manufacturing is bright. Now, new figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) indicate that growth is even being felt among the smaller businesses in the sector.
According to its most recent SME Trends Survey, 36 per cent of small and medium-sized manufacturing companies said they had seen orders rise in the three months to July. At the same time, 22 per cent said orders had fallen, leaving an overall positive balance of +14 per cent.
A balance of +15 per cent said that output had increased – and encouragingly, the outlook was positive for the coming months, with +19 per cent saying they expected output to rise further in the next three months.
All of this was possibly connected to an influx of new orders; +17 per cent reported that domestic orders had risen, while +24 per cent are expecting them to grow further in the next quarter.
But the +25 per cent in the previous survey who expected growth in exports were again disappointed. A balance of -2 per cent indicated that sales to foreign markets had actually declined over the quarter, possibly as a result of lacklustre demand in key markets like the eurozone.
Katja Hall, deputy director-general at CBI, says that this could also be the result of the strength of the pound in global currency markets, which reduces the buying power of foreign firms.
Even so, the UK’s small manufacturers are growing – and significantly, they are also hiring. A balance of +24 per cent pointed to the sharpest pace of employment growth since records began in 1988.
All of this tied into a fresh wave of optimism – improvements were expected on virtually all criteria, and +20 per cent said they were happy with their general business situation.
“Smaller manufacturers are settling into a regular growth pattern, with their order books and output growing for the fourth consecutive quarter,” said Ms Hall.
But she added that government support will be needed to boost exports.
“We need the government to get behind our small and medium-sized manufacturers to help them to sell their products and services to new markets around the world, giving a sustainable boost to long-term growth.”
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