There was a big increase in the number of firms reporting orders up in January according to the Engineering and Machinery Alliance business monitor.
The Engineering and Machinery Alliance (EAMA), which is an umbrella organisation of like-minded associations such as British Automation and Robotics Association (BARA) and the Manufacturing Toolmakers Association (MTA), reported that UK and export order intakes were up by 18% and 24%.
The level new order inquiries also rose in January with UK and export prospects each rising 4%. Martin Walder, chairman of EAMA, which represents 1,400 companies with over £7bn in turnover, commented: “Following the downbeat news on export orders recorded in the monitor at the end of last year, January’s bounce-back produced positive balances on export orders as well as UK business.”
Mr Walder added: “Compared to November, our previous reporting period, the export numbers are really encouraging with a third of companies making gains and falls down from one in three to one in six.”
There’s also better news on jobs and investment in the Monitor as 29% of firms reported more job openings, giving an overall balance between firms offering more jobs and those cutting numbers of +21%, which is the highest it’s been since September 2011.
January also saw a big increase in investment intentions with 42% saying they are investing in all areas of their business, which is up 6% on November and the highest since June 2011.
This increase occurred at the same time as an apparently similar decrease in availability of finance as significantly more companies recorded difficulties in accessing finance, 21% having problems related to working capital and 27% for investment capital.
Martin Walder explained: “The inferences here may be that companies are using their own funds or perhaps what they consider to be unconventional sources. It’s certainly a surprise to see such high investment figures counterbalanced by the biggest increase in difficulties we’ve recorded in accessing finance since 2009.
EAMA is organising a free event on Tuesday 27 March when companies will be able to explore new sources of finance and export support services at the National Metalforming Centre in West Bromwich.