Manufacturers able to defy downturn report claims

Many UK manufacturers report that they are defying the economic downturn

Large parts of the UK manufacturing industry are not only defying the current economic slowdown but outperforming the rest of the economy and growing at breakneck speed, according to a new report.

The research, published by engineering body the EEF and consultants BDO Stoy Hayward, shows that some of the sectors are reporting stronger growth rates than their equivalents in France and Germany

The analysis also adds weight to evidence that manufacturers are reaping the benefits of growing world trade by adopting a range of strategies for success, EEF said. These include technology-driven responses to globalisation, in addition to innovations in process, design and services.

Martin Temple, EEF chairman, said: “This report is the final nail in the coffin of the myth that manufacturing is in decline. The reality is a dynamic, innovative and increasingly high value sector that is competing successfully across the globe. 

“What is especially notable is the diversity of activities that are thriving. Alongside the well-known success stories of aerospace and pharmaceuticals, are sectors producing scientific instruments, mechanical appliances and basic metals – which also have shown strong growth and have a solid international reputation.”

Tom Lawton of BDO added: “The analysis shows that there is no one winning formula for high performance in a relatively high-cost location like the UK. The sectors that have succeeded in recent years have adopted a range of strategies that make them stand out internationally, including: scientific innovation and knowledge, a focus on customer value and the development of customer facing service offerings. 

“What the majority of these thriving sectors do share, however, is a focus on exports, which shows how manufacturers have turned globalisation to their advantage.  For two-fifths of them, exports now account for more than half of their turnover.  

"Trade is hugely significant to high-growth manufacturing, particularly in the emerging ‘BRIC’ economies which have seen strong growth in recent years. This demonstrates the responsiveness of UK manufacturing to a range of markets – new and old. Agility is key to success in the current market place.”

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