Supply chain · 4 February 2016

Small firm confidence boosts UK manufacturing

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Manufacturing exports fell 25 per cent in the three months to January
The UK’s small manufacturing businesses are optimistic about the industry’s performance over the next quarter to April, with domestic orders and exports set to improve despite flat UK orders and a slight decline in exports in the three months to January.

Smaller manufacturing firms report steady employment growth, with many planning to increase investment and product innovation over the next 12 months, according to the latest SME Trends Survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Conducted amongst 426 manufacturing companies, the survey showed firms were upbeat about the stability of the industry, as the volume of output rebounded. Growth is set to accelerate in the next three months according to the survey, with export orders expected to increase throughout 2016.

Economics director at the CBI, Rain Newton-Smith, said that even though the survey suggested that many UK manufacturers were treading water, the optimism of small manufacturing firms for the year ahead was encouraging. There are expectations that domestic orders and export growth will pick up in the next quarter and many smaller manufacturing firms also plan to invest more in their staff, Newton-Smith commented.

In the three months to January, export prices suffered the greatest decline since October 2000, falling 25 per cent. Prices are expected to stabilise in the next quarter, although more manufacturers cited concerns about political and economic conditions outside the UK. In all, 31 per cent of the survey’s respondents reported worries, up from the long-running average of 22 per cent.


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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