Olympic summer marks Midlands manufacturers as winners

Posted on 9 Aug 2012 by Tim Brown

Although UK manufacturing’s impressive performance in the first quarter of this year was over-shadowed by less inspiring figures from quarter two, Midlands manufacturers say they are still going strong.

“We’ve seen a different picture here within the region, the coverage appears to overlook the significant investment and success being steadily accrued by manufacturing across the UK and particularly in the Midlands,” said Made in the Midlands Commercial Director, Charles Addison.

“It is the continued investment in plant, machinery and people that is sustaining the manufacturing sector and enabling it to grow in the future. It is not just the big names that report increased sales and increasing export orders. Small and medium sized enterprises in the Midlands are also showing their hardiness and bucking the trend of dismal growth forecasts. Made in the Midlands continues to be the hub that brings these successful companies together to continue this” Addison said.

Midlands based Professional Polishing Services have been one such company, this week announcing the investment of nearly a quarter of a million pounds on new capital plant expansion.

PPS Managing Director, Kirsty Davies-Chinnock said: “This is the first stage in our ambitious growth plan where we hope to bring new technology into the market to service our existing customers, as well as increasing our presence in mainland Europe. It’s gratifying that despite the ‘doom and gloom’ credit lines are available via traditional lenders for SME’s that want to expand.”

Analysts have been quick to temper previous optimism from quarter one’s performance with a focus on apparently dwindling numbers in July. Some have attributed the decline to Olympics related disruption and close-downs during the Jubilee. Nonetheless, the summer has certainly not been all bad news and as seen phenomenal success in the UK aerospace industry, showcased recently at the Farnborough Air Show.

The region was represented at the show by a number of aerospace companies – amongst them, Goodrich Actuation Systems – now part of UTC, whose continued success has been reflected in a recent contract in which they are to provide advanced DB-110 airborne reconnaissance system for the Royal Saudi Air Force F-15S Modernization Program. Equally, Moog unveiled their high-performance ISR (T) Pod at the air show.

Moreover, the show saw Vince Cable announce a £120 million investment from government and industry in aerospace research and technology. The investment is a reflection of future plans to secure billions of pounds worth of new contracts for the aerospace sector during the next 15 to 20 years.

The Midlands are still experiencing resurgences in many other areas of manufacturing. JLR’s arrival in Wolverhampton is perhaps testament to the thriving automotive sector in the area, with plans underway for a £355m plant on the i54 site and an anticipated creation of 750 jobs.

Similarly, the manufacturing led economic recovery has enabled JLR to turn around the possible closure of their Castle Bromwich plant into an investment of £200m to expand the site. Meanwhile £50m worth of investment is being ploughed into facilities in Leicestershire and Stoke-on-Tees by Caterpillar. There are also plans to create 300 new jobs.

Despite the negative media coverage, many areas of the manufacturing sector are thriving and most importantly they are carrying out the very investments and pursuing the opportunities that will guarantee their own future success and safeguard against a contraction of the sector in coming months.