UK manufacturers brace for bumpy ride in 2017

Industrial Strategy Sparks Grinding Industry Manufacturing UK Manufacturers Stock Image Pixbay
The data found 56% intend to increase productivity through process innovations, while 50% aim to increase investment in technology - image courtesy of Pixabay.

Manufacturers are set for a strong debate at the National Manufacturing Conference in February this year with new data showing that firms expect 2017 to be another year of risks.

The findings come from EEF’s annual Executive Survey. They show that the balance of risks versus opportunities has tipped to the former with 46% of UK manufacturers saying their company faces more risks than opportunities in 2017. In contrast, just 23% say opportunities outstrip risks.

Firms confident about their own performance

The data shows that firms expect their own performance to hold up with the number of permanent employees, UK sales, exports and productivity all predicted to head in the right direction during 2017.  But, while fairly confident about conditions in their industry, just a quarter (25%) expect UK economic conditions to improve, while 47% are steeling themselves for a decline.

Firms remain focused on long-term and broad-based actions and their priorities and direction of travel is very clear. Just under six in ten (56%) intend to increase productivity through process innovations, while half (50%) aim to increase investment in technology and innovation. As well as looking towards the fourth industrial revolution, more than four in ten (44%) will be working with suppliers and customers to ensure supply chain flexibility.

Brexit risks and opportunities will be one of the key issues up for debate at EEF’s National Manufacturing Conference, sponsored by Lombard.

Visit: www.manufacturingconference.co.uk to book or to find out more.

EEF’s 2017 Executive Survey can be viewed here.

Exports

Other areas where strong efforts will be made include diversifying into new export markets (41%), brand and marketing (40%), and commercialising new technology and product developments (39%). At the same time UK manufacturers remain fully aware of the challenges they face in trying to deliver on their goals.

Brexit

Brexit also looms high on their risk radar – it is seen as a significant exacerbating factor in a number of key areas, such as exchange rate movements (74%), rising input costs (66%) and volatility in major markets (45%).

According to EEF CEO, Terry Scuoler: “Global political upheaval means that 2017 looks set to be another bumpy ride, with UK manufacturers forced to navigate uncertainty, unpredictable economic conditions and a number of risks that have been amplified by Brexit.”

Government’s role

He added: “A smooth journey is far from guaranteed, but firms are strongly attuned to the challenges and remain fully focused and determined to deliver on their long-term plans for growth. The sector remains ambitious, resilient and adaptable, but needs the government to play its part by implementing a strong, robust and comprehensive industrial strategy to support UK manufacturing’s drive for growth and technological innovation.”