Manufacturers are embracing proactivity and creating opportunities for growth.
1) Increasing investment
Top of the list is investment in technology and innovation, with 41 per cent of businesses planning to increase investment in these areas.
2015 saw manufacturers using innovation to deal with challenges. For example, many businesses increased investment in new product development to move into new supply chains.
2) Expanding into new markets
According to the survey, manufacturers are also looking to sell into new export markets, 39 per cent listing this as a top priority.
Over half of manufacturers say their main reason for innovating was to increase sales into new export markets, according to the EEF Innovation Monitor.
Liz Mayes, North East region director at EEF, commented: “There is particularly good news about the number looking to prioritise investment in technology and innovation and those looking to explore new export markets. These are positive and proactive steps.”
Increasing exports can help businesses by allowing them to access faster growing sectors. This isn’t always easy, however. Manufacturers have already started to look further afield for export opportunities, with South East Asia proving a popular destination.
3) Collaborating with customers and suppliers
37 per cent of manufacturing businesses list this as a priority, so collaboration continues to be important in 2016.
Businesses need to increase visibility about both supply and demand, while also ensuring supply chain flexibility. The majority of manufacturing businesses believe they’ll be able to achieve this.
Proactive action more important than risk forecasting
Manufacturing businesses are choosing to prioritise proactive action to minimise the impact of a number of risks, rather than try to predict or forecast what future risks may be.
Chris Meldrum, regional sales director – North at Aldermore, commented on the survey, saying: “This year’s annual EEF/Aldermore Executive Survey clearly highlights the challenges that UK manufacturers are facing and reinforces the belief that 2016 will be another tricky year for the industry.
“Nevertheless, manufacturing businesses have their eyes open to mounting risks and are putting strategies in place to manage them. In particular, we are seeing continuing strong demand for finance to support growth, predominantly from SMEs operating in the sector.
“Manufacturing plays an important role in the UK economy and many manufacturing businesses, both large and small, are amongst the nation’s leading exporters.
“It is good news then that those manufacturers in a position to invest are generally able to secure the external finance that will enable them to do so.
“This should help to mitigate some of the anticipated risks and facilitate planned investment in technology and innovation, and also continue to reinforce the industry’s vital role in driving the UK’s ongoing economic recovery.”
Aldermore have been working closely with EEF for a number of years, and are proud to be headline sponsor of the EEF Future Manufacturing Awards. What are your thoughts on the survey? Or the outlook for the industry in 2016? Get in touch via social media and let us know.
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