UK manufacturers invest in exports to stay ahead

Posted on 18 Mar 2016 by Fred Tongue

According to a new study, nine out of ten UK manufacturers are looking to invest to improve efficiency, productivity and exports.

According to the latest Attitudes to Business survey, by Lombard, 87% of manufacturers have plans to improve productivity and efficiency.

The study also shows that four out of five manufacturers surveyed are planning to invest to support exports in 2016, with one third saying that exports will be an area that they are going to invest in.

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The survey – which included 750 UK businesses with a turnover of £2m up to £25m- also raised concerns from manufacturers about the need for government support; 70% of manufacturers surveyed said they would like to see more done to encourage export activity, with the need to cut red tape the main issue.

Head of Lombard, Ian Isaac commented: “It’s very encouraging that UK manufacturers are taking an enterprising approach to the importance of investing to secure their place in the competitive global arena.

“The findings of the survey indicate that UK manufacturers are very aware of what they need to do in order to secure ongoing and sustainable growth. Within their business plans, investment aimed at securing innovation, improving productivity and establishing strong export markets will continue to be fundamental to securing the future health of the UK economy.”

The Attitudes to Business Investment survey is in very much in tune with what EEF has found from its members.

Chief Economist at EEF, Lee Hopley noted: “It’s the worst kept secret that the UK has a big productivity challenge.

Lee Hopley, chief economist, EEF.
Lee Hopley, chief economist, EEF.

“We’ve lost a lot of ground since the financial crisis, but the UK has some real potential strength in its industrial sector, which historically has a good track record in delivering productivity gains.

“To get manufacturing growth and productivity on a stronger trajectory we want to see more companies investing in major technological advances, a strong commitment to industrial strategy from government and finance providers working in partnership with industry to make investment plans a reality.”

Alby Pattison is managing director of Hartlepool-based Hart Biologicals, a successful medical science manufacturer that exports 80% of its products.

Pattison said: “Lombard’s research finding that manufacturers are investing to support export matches our own experience.

“We’ve invested over £500,000 to date which has ensured that we are able to support new orders coming in and we’ll continue to expand our capacity to secure new export contracts.”

Ian Isaac, Managing Director, Business & Commercial (B&C)
Ian Isaac, Managing Director, Business & Commercial (B&C)

Isaac concluded: “The survey demonstrates that many UK manufacturers recognise that investment in innovation is needed to drive competitiveness and efficiency.

“These businesses are taking the positive steps needed to equip themselves to operate within the demands of the global marketplace. However, it will be vital that the broader UK economy adopts this strategy of ongoing investment so that the UK continues to move forward.”