According to the latest Industrial Trends Survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), manufacturing output in the UK remains relatively stable if the past quarterâs figures are anything to go by. The research published by CBI found that the imports market has kept the market buoyant despite falling demand for UK exports.
CBI stands as one of the UKâs largest trade bodies with a membership totalling in excess of 190,000 businesses from multiple sectors. Acting as the voice and champion of businesses small and large, the organisation currently boasts 13 offices up and down the country as well as being represented in global cities, Brussels, Washington, Beijing and Delhi.
The survey of 472 manufacturers found that 21% enjoyed an increase in sales while a quarter of respondents reported a decline in orders. Exports were hardest hit falling from -2% to -7% with many businesses placing blame on turbulent political and economic times.
Overall manufacturing output nevertheless remains largely positive: 24% of manufacturers saw a significant boost in production demand, and businesses appear optimistic about both future viability and growth. 27% of those surveyed were predicting an increase in new orders, well in excess of average figures. A fifth of businesses also revealed to CBI that they were expecting a more fortuitous exports market in the coming months and year â the highest proportion since 2014.
Such positivity can be traced to renewed emphasis on investment within the sector. Manufacturers have acknowledged, it appears, that in order to stand out in an increasingly competitive market, they must take the time to improve and differentiate their services and products. Investment in infrastructure â that is, offices and premises â now hold strong at 6% and both plant and machinery investment, and product and process innovation stands at 17% and 18% respectively.
Rain Newton-Smith, Director of Economics at CBI admitted it was a flat start to the year for many manufacturing firms but that the falling exchange rate should provide some relief to UK businesses. He agreed with the 20% predicting a rise in exports and suggested that businesses would, as result, be encouraged to invest in production capacity in a more concentrated way. Newton-Smith went on to promise that CBI would continue to provide support for those looking to consolidate or grow their business asset, insisting that the organisation is to continue to lobby with government to enact the changes in policy, practice and funding needed for the UKâs manufacturing industry to prosper.