Manufacturing sector goes from strength to strength

Posted on 30 Apr 2014 by Tim Brown

The turbulent state of the economy over the past five years has left the UK undergoing a trying time, battling to fight its way out of recession and become more stable says Brian Wilkinson, director of manufacturing and technology at Office Depot.

Throughout this challenging period, Britain has seen some of its long-established industries struggle to remain afloat. Over the years the manufacturing industry has fallen into decline; however the shift towards an improving economy in the UK has seen the sector begin to thrive once more.

If positive reports are to be believed, then the manufacturing industry is well on its way to carving out a more solid position. Manufacturing contributes £6.7 trillion to the global economy and the UK is the 11th largest manufacturing nation. So as we start to emerge from beneath the black cloud of recession and see the first indications of recovery, those in the industry may start to ask themselves what’s next for the manufacturing marketplace. Recent research by Office Depot garnered unique insight into UK businesses speaking to 250 managing directors and owners of large companies spanning 15 industry sectors – including manufacturing – and what was revealed was rather surprising.

According to recent figures from the ONS, the UK’s manufacturing output grew by 1% from January to February 2014, which is the biggest amount of growth since September last year and is ahead of forecasts for the industry. This renewed optimism for the industry is reflected in the fact that 70% of those in manufacturing who participated in the Office Depot research thought that business had improved over the last three months (Nov 2013 – January 2014). Furthermore, more than three quarters (85%) are anticipating further growth for 2014. It can be somewhat difficult at times to draw realistic conclusions from what is often reported in the media headlines about to the state of the economy, however, 46% of participants from manufacturing believe that the positive reports about the economic upturn are truly accurate and representative of their industry.

Good trading conditions at home in the UK and in overseas markets have been the catalyst behind the surge in the manufacturing industries current success, which highlights the pivotal role that it plays in the UK’s steps towards recovery. The manufacturing sector directly employs 2.6 million people in the UK, when we asked whether managing directors predicted a higher turnover of staff due to more jobs being available in the bourgeoning economy 45% said that it was not a worry. More than two thirds (67%) said that they would be looking to recruit more staff, which would help to accommodate the increased performance within the sector.

Despite the positive outlook for the industry, nearly half (49%) of managing directors and business owners in manufacturing say that they feel under pressure to reward their staff with pay rises, with 30% choosing to remain cautious and hold on to capital for the time being.

In comparison to other sectors who took part in our research, those in manufacturing are working with increased optimism, with results of their perseverance and contribution to the UK economy staring to show. Chancellor George Osbourn has recently announced measures designed to aid manufacturers to help rebalance the UK’s economy, and with this in mind, the industry is set to continue to flourish further.

About Office Depot: Formed by the merger of Office Depot and OfficeMax, Office Depot, Inc. is a leading global provider of products, services, and solutions for every workplace – whether your workplace is an office, home, school, or car.