In line with a general upward trend in UK manufacturing over the last few months, a recent survey by manufacturers' organisation EEF and Southampton-based accountants BDO shows business is picking up for manufacturers in the South East.
According to the Manufacturing Outlook survey published in June, output grew by 32 per cent for the South East's manufacturers in the second quarter of the year, contributing to a 45 per cent increase in order book balances. In fact, this jump represented the largest climb in orders for any region of the UK, with output growth second only to the East Midlands.
This data was bolstered by figures suggesting 27 per cent of companies within the region increased staff numbers over the same period, up from 11 per cent the previous quarter and well ahead of the national average of 11 per cent.
Reflecting on the changing fortunes of the local manufacturing industry, Arbinder Chatwal, Head of Manufactuing at BDO, enthused; "There seems a definite lightening of the mood among manufacturers in the region supported by positive order balances, particularly on the south coast. If these results are anything to go by, it's not doing any harm to manufacturing SME confidence for future growth and jobs creation in the Solent region."
Philip Stephenson, Partner at local solicitors Barlow Robbins, who represent this year's sponsor for the upcoming Made in the South East manufacturing awards, also echoed this optimistic sentiment, commenting, "A few of our manufacturing clients are now making company acquisitions again after being quiet in recent years." Despite these encouraging signs, Chatwal is quick to stress that the industry's recovery is not yet guaranteed, suggesting access to finance must be addressed in order to support local industry.
"Recovery in the sector still remains tentative," states Chatwal, explaining, "It is at this important point where it is crucial for Government and lenders to get behind the numerous positive indicators emerging from the sector, and do all they can to help build the momentum of a recovery or risk seeing things stutter once more."
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