Manufacturing in the West Midlands

IN: Industry news

The pace seems to finally be picking up for the West Midlands manufacturing industry after years of struggle, with demand from Asian markets fuels rapid export growth.

The Ernst & Young UK Goods Export Monitor predicts an 8.1 per cent growth for goods exports from the West Midlands between 2012 and 2017; the highest expansion rate forecast for any UK region.  In comparison, German goods exported from the Mittelstand region have growth expectations of 2.3 per cent across the same period.

Ernst & Young's Midlands' Senior Partner, Sara Fowler, explains;

"The Midlands has set the gold standard for UK goods exporters, demonstrating the benefits of a targeted export strategy. Over the last 15 years the region's goods exporters have invested in competing at the niche manufacturing end of the automotive and engineering sectors and this is now paying dividends.

"Targeted investment has created enormous opportunities for fast growth, with China now the region's second largest export partner, according to HMRC. This is also a sign of a rebalancing of our economic strengths outside London."

This positive news marks an about turn for the Midlands manufacturing sector, which shrank 23 per cent between 1997 and 2010. GDP figures released two months ago revealed two consecutive quarters of contraction for the manufacturing industry, prompting West Bromwich MP, Tom Watson, to proclaim;

"A closer examination of the GDP figures shows they are bad news for the Midlands economy as manufacturing records a second quarter of negative growth."

However, the manufacturing sector in the West Midlands appears to be recovering lost ground, with many international firms re-shoring production to the region from overseas, while larger firms are becoming more reliant on local suppliers.

"Manufacturers in the West Midlands are more optimistic today than we've been for years," affirms Dinos Andreou, Sales and Marketing Director for local automobile manufacturing firm Stadco. "Not only is demand bouncing back for the cars we supply components for, but the big producers are increasingly turning to local suppliers because we can supply the goods at high quality at short notice."


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