EEF National Manufacturing Conference Blog: Focus on finance and investment

Posted on 13 Feb 2012 by The Manufacturer

Alexander Baldock, Managing Director of asset financier, Lombard writes in anticipation of the manufacturers’ organisation’s first national conference.

As headline sponsor of this year’s EEF National Manufacturing Conference, Lombard is delighted to be supporting and participating in what is set to be a very exciting and thought-provoking event. EEF and its CEO, Terry Scuoler, are tremendous advocates for the industry and they have put together a conference that provides a significant opportunity for businesses to come together and stimulate debate on fundamental issues.

The Conference will provide access to wider views from both politicians and industry leaders, and offer the chance for delegates to voice what thay believe needs to happen to encourage further manufacturing investment. Attending the conference will ensure that your view counts!

There can be little doubt that 2012 will be a year of challenges for many businesses. The difference though, as in most scenarios, is how you approach the difficulties that could potentially lie ahead.

Will you wait for the recovery process to pick up before making any investment commitments, or will you take the decision to focus on what is within your control? I believe wholeheartedly in the latter – it is imperative that we build resilient businesses that can better weather the current climate to get the best chance of success.

Needless to say, my view is that if key industries, manufacturing in particular, are to continue to play a significant role in the UK economy recovery and its sustainability, it will be important for you to build for the future, rather than waiting for the economic turmoil to subside – and I implore you to do so.

At this year’s conference I will focus on how this capital investment can become a reality; how it can help you secure the best and most up-to-date equipment that you need for your business to be successful. I shall talk about how funding can in fact be flexible and committed simultaneously – where the finance is tailored specifically according to your needs – and that does not rely on cash.

While there are many businesses that have already discovered the benefits of asset finance and other alternative funding methods, we believe that there are still too many who are unaware of the availability of these forms of finance, and the opportunities they provide.

For example, as a business Lombard lent £4.5bn to UK businesses in 2011, 15% more than in 2010, with lending for production equipment rising by nearly 19%. However, we would genuinely have liked this figure to be higher – availability of capital is certainly not an issue in the asset finance sector, and we have set ourselves a goal to pay out closer to £5bn in 2012.

As the largest player in the asset finance sector, we will continue to bang the drum for what persists in being an under-exploited source of capital investment. Using asset finance to fund capital expenditure offers flexibility and commitment, reducing risks and the cost of lending, and these are just a few of the benefits that your business could enjoy.

During 2012, we’ll continue to build closer partnerships with manufacturing. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is getting out to see our customers – there is little to match seeing the equipment that we have funded in action, driving forward that business’s future.

So, rather than waiting for the economic situation to subside, let’s work together to meet it head-on, fully equipped to override the challenges of the year ahead.

When I meet you on March 6, I shall invite you to take the opportunity to challenge us on our commitment to manufacturing by picking up the phone and putting us to the test. Our ongoing partnership with EEF is not simply rhetoric, but a solid promise to manufacturing and realising the investment in the sector to secure success in 2012 for us all.