Mark Stephens, Deputy CEO and Group Commercial Director of Aldermore, comments on the manufacturing industry being set to achieve its strongest rate of growth in 2014 since 2010, meaning the fourth annual EEF survey starts in a good place.
That said, confidence has weakened since the start of 2014, when a moderate outlook was forecast. The perceived outlook has weakened slightly as a result of concerns around the global economy, which has led UK manufacturers to be hesitant in their forecast for 2015.
However, manufacturers are more confident of the UK’s economic outlook going into 2015, than they were in 2012 and 2013. It is important to note that the UK is still seen as a competitive place to do business, and ultimately, manufacturers are confident that they can achieve sales growth in the year ahead.
The top priority for manufacturing firms in 2015 is to increase their efforts on marketing and branding, in order to build their customer base. But they also intend to prioritise investment in the growth of their companies in 2015, which is excellent news.
Another key priority for 2015 is to launch a new product or service, showing that the sector remains confident there is room for their product base to grow in the coming year.
In terms of the perceived challenges, rising input costs remain a concern for the largest proportion of manufacturers. Challenges that are tied to the deteriorating global economy such as exchange rate risks and economic disruptions are feeding into manufacturers’ worries for 2015.
But overall, manufacturers are ambivalent towards whether or not 2015 will present more opportunities than risks for their firms, with the same proportion agreeing that there are more risks than opportunities in the year ahead as disagreeing.
All in all, there is confidence that the positive trends of growth in the manufacturing industry will continue into 2015, showing that the positives outweigh the negative.
It is particularly welcoming to see that firms have predicted a rise in activity levels, which will ensure that many will continue recruiting in 2015. The manufacturing industry looks set to grow which will boost local economies up and down the UK.
In April 2014 the Government doubled the annual investment allowance as part of its efforts to support the UK manufacturing industry and it is clearly working.
At Aldermore we’re getting ever increasing demand from all sorts of innovative UK manufacturing firms needing to free up cashflow to expand their business and take on new contracts.
We are also seeing an increasing number of our customers making real inroads in the export market selling their produce across the globe.
The positive outlook for manufacturing is testament that more and more firms are now able to access the finance they need to invest, grow and make a profit.
Although growth is expected on a lesser scale when compared to 2014, it is great to see that the manufacturing industry is predicted to continue to grow in a way that fuels the UK economy.