Manufacturing SMEs are set to meet investment demands,with 50% of those questioned by the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) expecting to spend on new machinery and premises in the next six months.
Half of the 682 companies questioned in the second MAS Barometer of 2013 expected to spend more on new machinery and premises over the next six months, a 12% rise on the same period last year.
There appears to be a similar appetite for embracing new technologies with 40% of firms indicating they will fund more activity in this area.
In further positive news for the sector, 53% of SME manufacturers reported an increase in sales in the first half of the year, with an all time National Barometer high of 67% predicting further growth over the next six months.
David Caddle, area director for MAS, said the news represents a change in behaviour for manufacturers, who previously needed long-term confidence to invest.
“Encouragingly, the latest Barometer provides the clearest indication yet that companies are prepared to invest in new machinery and their premises in a bid to remain competitive and take advantage of significant opportunities both at home and abroad,” he said.
“It is a reassuring finding and appears to meet the EEF’s recent call for the sector to fund more research, innovation and export growth.”
Mr Caddle added the new optimism is also reflecting in employing staff, with 43% of SMEs prepared to employ new people, with an additional 50% expecting to keep workforce levels the same.
Business and energy minister Michael Fallon also welcomed the news.
“These findings are the latest indication that the economy is starting to head in the right direction, as we move from rescue to recovery.
“It is particularly encouraging to see that confidence is returning and manufacturers are becoming more optimistic about their future growth”.
MAS’ report comes a day after Natwest and manufacturers’ organisation EEF also confirmed investment and expansion intentions for firms.