Sales and investment rise as SMEs defy slowdown
Small and medium sized manufacturers (SMEs) in England are defying predictions of a slowdown in the sector by posting increases in current and predicted sales. 59% of respondents to the latest Manufacturing Barometer* have indicated that turnover increased in the previous six months (up 4% on the last report), with over two thirds (70%) expecting further increases over the next quarter.
In further positive news, half of firms are still looking to recruit and 54% said they were planning to increase investment in new technology...the highest figure recorded in the six-year history of the Barometer and an indication of a movement towards more advanced manufacturing.
The specialist topic this time is 'identifying barriers to growth'. Responses revealed that the burden of regulation and the pressure of paying higher salaries are the two main concerns for England's SME manufacturing base.
Steven Barr, Head of Manufacturing at the Business Growth Service, commented: "There have been concerns that manufacturing is slowing down, and GDP figures from the Office for National Statistics did indeed reveal a slight decline. I'm pleased to say that SME manufacturers are feeling more optimistic. Turnover for the last period has bounced back strongly and the outlook for future sales appears positive, with automotive and construction strong and new opportunities in offshore wind and nuclear opening up previously untapped markets.
"Record investment plans in technology should be welcomed. This shows companies are recognising that they need to spend in order to compete globally, offering unique processes and technologies that establish themselves on the added value chain."
He continued: "Predicted recruitment of new staff has also remained strong, although this could be due to companies not being able to find the skilled employees they need. Any slowdown by the bigger manufacturers will take a while to cascade down the supply chain. We have to be mindful that there might be a delayed reaction to the predicted slowdown."
Business Minister Matthew Hancock commented: "Small businesses have been at the forefront of our economic recovery and today's findings show no sign this is slowing down. We are committed to making Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business, which means backing manufacturers every step of the way.
"Cutting swathes of unnecessary red tape has saved business £10billion over the last four years, our British Business Bank is unlocking funds for thousands of small businesses and our laser focus on skills has seen more than 2 million people start an apprenticeship during this Parliament. Our long-term economic plan is delivering and it's clear that manufacturers are leading the way."
The Barometer is the largest survey of its kind, reflecting the views of 546 SME manufacturers across England, employing over 16,000 people. Nearly half of companies cited regulation as their biggest burden, followed by the pressure to pay higher salaries (34%) and securing appropriate finance or investment (33%). The skills gap was also highlighted as a major concern, with 32% of manufacturing employers admitting they could not find new recruits with the skills they need. Surprisingly less than a third (30%) said that cashflow hindered their future development.
"We also asked them to tell us which factors they felt supported growth," continued Steven. "More than three quarters (76%) feel their current sales strategy is important to growth, whilst the skills of the management team and commitment to innovation all scored highly (67% and 63% respectively)."
He concluded: "What was pleasing to see was MDs praising the motivation of their workforce (57%) as a significant factor in their success."
The Business Growth Service, launched in December 2014 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, brings together GrowthAccelerator and the Manufacturing Advisory Service, with additional elements from the Intellectual Property Office (Intellectual Property Audits) and the Design Council (Design Mentoring). The manufacturing offer is closely aligned with GROW:OffshoreWind and Fit for Nuclear (F4N), the latter delivered by the Nuclear AMRC (NAMRC).
The Business Growth Service also refers SME manufacturers to the right support provided by other agencies, including UK Trade & Investment, Innovate UK (including High Value Manufacturing Catapults), the British Business Bank, local Growth Hubs and UK Export Finance.
For further information, please visit www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/mas
Latest news about Editorial features
- Download the latest issue Industrial Technology EXTRA
- August's first issue of Industrial Technology EXTRA is now out
- Electrocomponents joins The Valuable 500 global effort to advance disability inclusion
- The latest issue of Industrial Technology EXTRA is available for download
- A new issue of Industrial Technology EXTRA is available now
- Download this week's issue of Industrial Technology EXTRA
- The first of your July issues of Industrial Technology EXTRA
- Your new issue of Industrial Technology EXTRA - 29 June
- Analog Devices wins Transatlantic Growth Award
- Industrial Technology EXTRA - 22 June
- Visit our virtual exhibition stand
- Your Industrial Technology EXTRA for 15 June
- Industrial Technology EXTRA for 8 June is now out
- June's first Industrial Technology EXTRA is now out
- Industrial Technology EXTRA! for 26 May
- Industrial Technology EXTRA for 11 May
- May's first issue of Industrial Technology EXTRA now available
- Read the latest issue of Industrial Technology EXTRA!
- 3rd issue of Industrial Technology EXTRA! out today
- Industrial Technology EXTRA! - issue 2
- Industrial Technology EXTRA! - launch issue
- Professor calls for engineers to help solve NHS and healthcare issues amid pandemic
- A tale of squires, stew and electric vehicles
- Bleak house, but great expectations
- The debate on democracy – to the moon and back
- Smart factories will boost global economy
- Employee welfare is top priority for Flame Hardeners
- Deferred gratification or meaningless promises?
- Proof again that nostalgia ain’t what it used to be?
- The vinyl revival in an increasingly digital world
- Star Trek and the virtuous circle of product innovation
- Expanding our thinking on the sharing economy
- A musical take on the benefits of integration
- Websites could and should be so much more
- Chasing the market when you’re in the middle ground
- Renishaw supports Colston Hall state of the art education suite
- Your brand, your promise
- Brexit, the barman and the boiled egg
- International consumers prepared to pay up to 22% more for British goods
- Impact of Carillion dwarfs the Brexit and Trump effects
- Is good design just a question of perspective?
- ABB wins $130 million power order in the UK
- Across Europe, the only constant is change
- Defining the challenges for a low carbon future
- Infrastructure challenge for an all-battery future
- Cheeseburger lessons for UK manufacturing
- With demonisation, the devil is in the detail
- Cinderella, pancetta, and the great Brexit debate
- Data is the 21st century industrial battleground
- Arsene Wenger and the future of the EU
- UK SMEs confident about growth prospects
- Star Wars lessons for product development
- Well, I never saw that one coming
- Energy expert IDEC joins COPA-DATA Partner Community
- Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
- To the infinitesimally small, and all the way back
- Is the rise of storage units costing us dear?
- Just how green is a new green product?
- Total value of UK goods exports to reach £445bn in 2026
- Is there another sad passing still to come?
- Understanding the true impact of Brexit
- The importance of good communications
- Manufacturers call for a support programme to help alleviate lack of skilled labour
- Growth can only be maintained if we address skills shortage
- RS helps to fast track the engineers of the future
- Southern Manufacturing returns to Farnborough
- Southern Manufacturing returns to Farnborough
- Unmade in China: hidden truth about China’s economic miracle
- From the local bus to the global adventure...
- The gap between R&D and production
- Star GB reveals details of Autumn Open House
- Bridging the 'valley of death' between research and bringing products to market
- Emissions trading scheme could cost UK steel sector over £300 million a year
- New annual report out today lifts the lid on UK manufacturing
- The lobster, the cat and the wardrobe
- Britain 'must invest in design skills' to drive forward in Industry 4.0, manufacturing experts warn
- Game of Thrones and a lesson for engineers
- Mechanical engineers back UK staying in the EU
- Big investment boost for the UK's automotive industry
- Manufacturing growth is going steady, says the CBI
- The plastic dream factory
- New website helps UK small businesses navigate funding maze
- Automotive industrial partnership on the starting grid
- Remanufacturing industry offers £5.6 billion opportunity for UK plc
- Britain on the cusp of fourth industrial revolution
- Manufacturing growth picks up speed
- Zen and the art of jimmying out the backup battery
- 3D printing service for bespoke fasteners
- Renishaw's EVO Project - additive manufacturing for industrial use
- RS Components augments rapid-prototyping product portfolio with new Ultimaker 2 3D printer
- Tapeswitch uses 3D printing for bespoke parts production
- TR Fastenings invests in 3D printing
- Web tool creates 3D gripper jaws at push of a button
- The perils of riding the change curve
- Big in Japan
- Crowd funding the UK's space industry...
- Dad's Army, and the art of recycling...
- Personal protection
- Emerging exports in emerging Europe
- New Lean Workshop Group seminars announced for October
- Renishaw engineer shortlisted for Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards
- Connecting with our cousins across the Commonwealth
- UK industry wasting millions as cost of poor maintenance mounts up
- UK now a competitive centre for manufacturing
- Go from zero to exporting hero
- You've made your bed, now you have to lay in it...
- Small businesses helpless in the face of cybercrime
- Manufacturers gear up for 'Made in the UK'
- UK businesses losing up to a third of customers due to poor service
- £2m up for grabs for the UK's most innovative engineering and manufacturing SMEs
- UK economy stabilises in Q2 following surge in first quarter
- Firm growth in manufacturing
- New campaign to boost female engineer numbers
- £30 million fund to address engineering skills shortage
- Growth returns to the market for geared products
- Forget sun, sea and sand. Think trade, commerce and exports
- Fast moving consumer goods in a fast moving global market
- Unlocking savings in MRO
- Small business? Become a big business exporter
- Where there's manufacturing, there's a way
- UKTI funding for companies looking to export
- Cosworth reveals programme to create Centre of Excellence for niche manufacturing
- Growth in UK manufacturing leads to employment increase, says KPMG
- Counterfeit materials lead to Aston Martin recall
- Rally success for E-Wheel Drive concept car
- UK engineers concerned about government's ability to secure the future of their industry
- Smart manufacturing will drive demand for M2M communication
- UK manufacturing sets off on a high in 2014, says KPMG
- Increased orders for manufacturing industry offers opportunity for investment
- Government must cut the red tape affecting small businesses
- New CBI indicator reveals fastest pace of growth since 2007
- Government must do more to back British innovation
- Carbon Trust calls for businesses to adapt or die
- Bronze skies and Industry 4.0
- Space 1999 and the lack of UK innovation...
- Embrace manufacturing convergence to optimise plant agility
- UK manufacturing growth surges
- Eurozone pulling out of recession
- Manufacturing boost as companies invest
- Export opportunities in the Turkish market
- SME confidence at a 12 month high
- Manufacturing returning to the UK
- Manufacuring production and new orders expand in December
- Confidence boost for UK manufacturing