Media reports of a manufacturing meltdown during the credit-crunch may not be telling the true story, as The Financial Times (FT) has found through its new manufacturing ‘barometer’.
The broadsheet has set up the project to report a true account of the industry based on the fortunes of 53 firms over the next year.
The first set of data retrieved paints a far brighter picture than most media updates on the state-of-play within British industry. On average, the companies were +2.5 and +1.8 in terms of positivity with regards to inquiries on future sales and sales over the last six months. A score of 0 confers to neutrality while the opposite ends of the scale are + and -10. Employment intentions registered +0.5.
When the above factors were considered along with investment intentions, an average reading of +0.8 was garnered.
The firms involved are from all over the UK and cover all areas of manufacturing. They range from small enterprises with a half million pounds worth of sales to the likes of Baxi and Caparo who record close to a £billion. All, however, are privately owned.
The first round of research also found that companies that serve ‘niche’ markets or are linked to public-spending are currently faring best. Those that rely on the ailing construction and automotive industries are experiencing the biggest declines.
The FT is also sourcing qualitative descriptions of how the businesses are performing including the following from Angad Paul, chief executive at Caparo: “We will be in a better position to see what the future holds in January,” Mr Paul says. “Right now, it seems as though many companies in industry are just putting everything on hold, running down stocks to the bare minimum in a frenetic effort to conserve cash.”
The barometer is available on ft.com in an interactive form through which users stipulate the data they view and can access profiles of the companies involved.
img: A screenshot of the FT’s manufacturing ‘barometer’, sourced from www.ft.com