Additionally, 60% of the surveyed companies are expecting further growth between now and the end of the year.
The quarterly survey also revealed that 41% of companies are planning to take on staff in the coming year with another 50% expecting employee numbers to remain the same as the level of new business enquiries holds strong despite difficult economic conditions.
Over 610 businesses, representing more than 26,000 employees, responded to the Barometer, which is the latest in a series of economic reports that underline manufacturing in England is one of the few sectors that are growing.
The MAS National Barometer has been based on the successful model conducted in the South West for the last three years.
Simon Griffiths, MAS area director for North and West, commented: “This is the clearest indication yet that our manufacturers are enjoying increases in sales and, reassuringly, they expect this trend to continue. Investment by the major Original Equipment Manufacturers and interest from overseas companies to source from England has helped facilitate demand.”
Talking of a renewed commitment to create new jobs in England, he continued: “It will be interesting to see if employers can find the skilled staff they require to fill the positions, bringing into focus the need for companies to create and support Apprenticeships so we can start to fill the talent pipeline again.”
The report revealed that 44% of companies are planning to increase spend on premises and machinery, whilst 35% plan to invest in developing new technology which will help them remain ahead of global competition.
It appears that the MAS message of continuous improvement is also being understood, with more than 80% of firms admitting they would secure business growth through making improvements in operational efficiency.
Further findings show that 77% of companies recognise the need for supply chain improvements, yet when respondents were asked what they planned to measure and review it was clear the emphasis was on products rather than processes.
Business minister Mark Prisk said: “A key element of the Government’s support for manufacturers is our investment in MAS. I am delighted to hear of the success of the SMEs helped by MAS in increasing sales, creating new jobs and investing in new technology to keep ahead of global competition.”