London and South East’s SME manufacturers defy slowdown

Posted on 5 Mar 2015 by Jonny Williamson

Small and medium sized manufacturers in London and the South East are defying predictions of a slowdown by reporting increases in current and predicted sales.

More than half (57%) of the regional respondents to the latest Manufacturing Barometer have indicated that their turnover has continued to increase which is the same reported a year ago.

Over two-thirds (72%) expect further increases over the next quarter, which is higher than the national response of 70%.

In further positive news, 53% are still looking to recruit and 58% said they were planning to increase investment in new technology.

That’s a 9% increase on the last quarter and the highest figure recorded in the six-year history of the Barometer indicating a movement towards more advanced manufacturing.

Matthew Hancock MP, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Business Minister Matthew Hancock commented: “Small businesses have been at the forefront of our economic recovery and the 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. Our long-term economic plan is delivering and it’s clear that manufacturers are leading the way.”

The specialist topic this time was ‘identifying barriers to growth’. Responses revealed that the burden of regulation and the pressure of paying higher salaries are the two main concerns for London and the South East SME manufacturing base.

Head of manufacturing at the Business Growth Service, Steven Barr 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. However this is not the case for SMEs.

“Record investment plans in technology from these manufacturers are welcomed. This shows they recognise the need to spend to compete globally, to offer unique processes and technologies to establish themselves on the added value chain.

“Any slowdown by the bigger manufacturers will take a while to cascade down the supply chain and we have to be mindful that there might be a delayed reaction to the predicted slowdown.  At the moment though the news is very positive.”

The Barometer is the largest survey of its kind, reflecting the views of 546 SME manufacturers across England, employing over 16,000 people. The London and the South East response represented the views of 144 manufacturers.