‘Optimism soars’ among smaller manufacturers

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OPTIMISM has soared among Britain’s smaller manfacturers on the back of strong growth in orders, according to a new survey.

The study, by the CBI, also revealed an increase in the numbers employed in the sector, as the UK economy heads towards a sustainable recovery.

The CBI’s latest SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) Trends Survey found that optimism among the UK’s smaller manufacturers has surged to its highest level since records began in 1988.

Many small and medium-sized manufacturers reported that total orders and output rallied in the three months to April.

Numbers employed in the sector also enjoyed a sharp boost, and employment is expected to grow at an even stronger pace during the next quarter.

Many small manufacturing firms are based in Yorkshire, and the survey’s findings suggest that wider trends could be providing a boost for the county’s economy.

The survey of SME manufacturers showed that domestic orders rose strongly, while export orders bounced back from a fall in the previous quarter. Both are expected to see robust growth in the next quarter.

Output grew solidly for the third consecutive quarter, with output expectations for the next three months at their highest level since January 1995.

Firms’ investment intentions for buildings in the year ahead are flat, but spending for plant and machinery remains firmly positive, at its strongest level since July 1995.

Katja Hall, the CBI’s chief policy director, said today: “It’s very encouraging to see record levels of optimism among smaller manufacturers, on the back of robust growth in domestic and export orders, and a leap in output levels.

“Hiring is also on the up, and is set to strengthen as we look ahead into 2014.

“As confidence beds in, we need to see more firms exporting their products to high-growth markets across the globe, giving a healthy and sustainable boost to the UK’s recovery.”

The CBI SME Trends Survey was conducted between March 24 and April 9 2014. The findings are based on responses from 366 smaller manufacturing firms.

Jeremy Shulman

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