The latest monthly CBI Industrial Trends Survey has revealed that the manufacturing order books and export order books remained above their long run averages in the three months to February. Growth was predominantly driven by the Food, Drink and Tobacco, and Motor Vehicle and Transport Equipment sub-sectors.
The 397 manufacturers that were part of the survey anticipate that output growth will slow a little over the next three months. Also, the expectations for output inflation weakened from last monthâs 34 year high, while still remaining above the historical average. Furthermore, stocks were considered to be above adequate levels, but below the long run average.
This month saw another strong showing from UK manufacturers. Although order books werenât quite as buoyant as they were last month, demand remains strong and output grew briskly, said Anna Leach, CBI Head of Economic Intelligence. With the Brexit negotiations reaching a critical juncture, many businesses are concerned about future barriers to trade and are looking for clarity over the future relationship with the EU. Remaining in a comprehensive customs union will help alleviate some of those fears and give firms the confidence to invest and grow.
The key findings from that survey are that 30% of manufacturers reported total order books to be above normal and 20% to be below normal; 22% of firms that their export order books were above normal, while 12% said they were below normal; 39% of businesses said the volume of output over the past three months was up and 15% said it was down; 32% of manufacturers predict volumes to increase, while 16% expect a decline; 31% of companies expect the average selling prices to increase in the next three months and 6% predict a decline; and 16% of firms said their present stocks of finished goods are more than adequate, while 11% said they were less than adequate.
Tom Crotty, Group Director of Ineos and Chair of CBI Manufacturing Council gives the following advice: Manufacturers are benefitting from the health of the global marketplace. But companies still struggle to find the workers they need to grow their business. To ensure thereâs a strong pipeline of people with the technical skills needed, we need young people to receive further education and careers advice built upon the needs of employers.