The majority (83%) of London and South East small and medium-sized manufacturers have indicated that they need to improve productivity in the next six months if they are to achieve their growth plans.
The figure highlights the need for more firms to take action to boost efficiencies, reduce waste and maximise the potential of their workforce and machinery.
The manufacturers are the respondents to the latest Manufacturing Barometer – produced for the Business Growth Service, the largest survey of its kind, reflecting the views of more than 500 SME manufacturers across England, employing approximately 14,000 people. Just under 120 of respondents are based within London and the South East.
General Manager and COO of East London-based FormFormForm – which makes Sugru, a mouldable glue, Páraic Begley noted that, while worldwide sales and distribution are up, its manufacturing challenge is not only to increase productivity to keep up with demand, but also to drive competitiveness.
“Our Hackney-based manufacturing team has to work hard on continuous improvement as a way of life and to balance our capacity growth against constant cost pressure,” he said.
The region’s firms are above the national average when it comes to future sales (72% versus 70%), and 53% of London and South East companies are planning to take on more staff.
Buckinghamshire-based Micha Design – manufacturers of off-grid solar microprocessor controls and bespoke design solutions – has increased turnover by 54% in the past three years, thanks to support from the Business Growth Service.
It’s GM, Gerry Condon commented: “We have created five new jobs and our future plans for expansion are to other related technologies such as wind power, hydro power.”
Nearly half (49%) of London and South East manufacturers report that they expect to maintain or increase their investment in new technology, while just over half (51%) expect to increase investment in machinery and premises.
Hampshire-based precision engineering machinists, GW Martin has recently invested more than £1m in new plant and machinery. Stuart Yalden, MD, said: “As a result of our investment in cutting-edge technology and the support of the Business Growth Service, we expect 10% growth year-on-year.
“Over the next five years, we are looking to diversify into new areas such as off-shore wind and the wider energy sector, and with that aim, to create 16 new jobs.”
Head of manufacturing at the Business Growth Service, Steven Barr commented: “Uncertainty has been the biggest feature of the past four months and this is reflected in the mixed bag of economic data that has been published recently.
“The Barometer is still fairly positive with slight dips in achieved sales and investment in new technology offset by positive job prospects and future expansion plans.”
He continued: “Firms have once again raised the issue of productivity and, through our manufacturing experts at the Business Growth Service, we will engage with even more companies to help them with strategy, process improvement and the introduction of lean manufacturing.”