Natwest: thousands of UK manufacturing firms unprepared for the future

UK Manufacturing is very different – and in many ways far more exciting – than many people outside industry perceive - industrial strategy.
Many medium-sized businesses aren't aware government support is available to them, according to NatWest.

A new report form NatWest outlines some of the biggest threats faced by the UK manufacturing industry.

According to a new report by NatWest, the biggest issues facing UK manufacturing are:

  • unsupportive ecosystems
  • out-dated business models
  • increased competition from abroad
  • taking up technology too slowly

The findings come from a year-long consultation programme – Future Fit – looking at the future of industry by the bank’s specialist manufacturing team.

The report claims that many manufacturers feel isolated, are unprepared for future challenges and are cautious when it comes to innovation and risk.

Figures show that 14% lack any kind of business plan, and that 38% have no plans to do business overseas.

Head of manufacturing at NatWest, Richard Hill commented: “The industry is a significant part of the UK – and global – economy with many fantastic businesses across the country.

“However, it is clear that some will struggle to keep up with the demands of the industry and need a helping hand in terms of a more supportive ecosystem and mentoring opportunities.

To download the report, click here

“As a bank we must also adapt in order to use our networks to bring customers and other stakeholders together, while providing appropriate funding and effective sector collaboration.”

As part of the government’s R&D Tax Credit scheme, NatWest has launched a bridge-over loan to encourage business to invest in research and development.

The loan aims to make cash available for businesses to reinvest quickly and is available to customers, primarily in the manufacturing and technology sectors.

This follows its Tooling Proposition, launched in July 2014 to support automotive manufacturers.

Hill continued: “This is a good start, but we need to do more to challenge how we support manufacturers and be innovative in our approach to step outside traditional bank lending practices.

“We are calling on all stakeholders to take action and develop a connected and proactive support network to help nurture our vital manufacturing businesses.

“Only by working with manufacturers will we be able to support them in taking advantage of a new age of manufacturing and uncover existing and new support systems.

“We know we have some amazing manufacturing businesses in this country, but they need more help in order to compete with global competition and keep up with technological advancement.”

The Future Fit report includes a survey of nearly 300 medium-sized (ME) UK manufacturers within the £5m – £50m revenue bracket.