Small manufacturers in England are set to make the most of a strengthening UK economy by focusing on domestic markets for their future growth it was revealed today. Over two thirds (67%) of companies questioned in the latest Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) Barometer feel that increasing sales at home offered them the best chance to expand. This was followed by new product development, improving production processes and over a third of firms (36%) who are focused on boosting export performance.
There also appears to be significant confidence in longer-term growth as respondents predict a 64% rise in collective turnover and staffing levels to increase by 32% over the next four years. The latter could equate to tens of thousands of new jobs across the SME manufacturing base.
"There is significant confidence in the domestic marketplace at the moment, a further signal that the recovery has taken hold," explained Steven Barr, Head of the Manufacturing Advisory Service. "We've seen unrivalled investment in the UK automotive industry and that is cascading down the supply chain and creating new opportunities. Our reputation for low carbon advancement should also be another growth sector and I'm sure our manufacturing SMEs will be in line to take advantage of major infrastructure projects, such as Hinkley Point in Somerset and High Speed Rail."
He continued: "As part of the long-term focus, we also asked respondents about their biggest strengths, with the quality of senior leadership teams (68%) coming out on top, followed by innovative products (66%) and robust strategy (61%). "It was not surprising to discover that the biggest challenge is access to skills (71%), whilst marketing and creating effective sales channels were the next major concerns. We will work with partners like GrowthAccelerator and SEMTA to help SME manufacturers overcome these challenges."