The UK manufacturing industry performed better than expected in December, with growing export orders contributing to a smaller decline in output than in previous months.
Robin Johnson, chair of industrial engineering at law firm Eversheds, talks about the outlook for British industry in 2012.
“UK manufacturers have reasons to be optimistic going into 2012. Whilst it is clear that the on-going eurozone crisis is impacting on confidence, the fundamentals needed for a recovery in the sector are definitely in place. Interest rates are low, the US economy is recovering and the Asian market remains buoyant.
“Those companies who have adapted themselves to the current climate by restructuring, cutting out waste and becoming lean and deleveraged are now in a strong position to take advantage of this and capitalise on growth.
Protectionism outside of the EU remains a concern but the ‘Made in Britain’ epithet still carries weight and provided Britain remains innovative, keeps its liberal workforce economy and actively seeks to take advantage of the opportunities out there, 2012 should prove a satisfactory year.
Two key drivers for success will be ensuring that apprenticeships, which increased markedly in 2011 remain strong and that corporates continue to build on their relationships with research based universities to create new products and better design ensuring that British manufacturing retains its edge.”