Confidence returns for almost three manufacturers in four

Almost three-quarters of small and medium-sized British manufacturing firms are confident about their prospects for the next six months, despite more than half of them suffering a drop in profits in the first half of 2009, according to a survey.

The research, carried out online for Santander Corporate Banking last month by Telegraph Business Club, showed that 73 per cent of manufacturers were confident of their prospects for the remainder, only slightly less than the national average of 75 per cent. Overall, 1,049 businesses were surveyed.

Turnover is the factor most responsible for the level of general confidence among manufacturers, Santander added, with 26 per cent of company owners citing this as the most important indicator for them.  It was closely followed as the most crucial indicator by forward orders (25 per cent) and profitability (23 per cent).

This survey also revealed that while 57 per cent of manufacturers said they saw falling profits in the first half of 2009, 22 per cent claimed to have enjoyed increased profit levels. Some 29 per cent recorded a drop of more than 20 per cent, while six per cent saw profits rise by more than 20 percent.

However, manufacturing did not feature in Santander's list of the five most confident business sectors. Those five were: Hospitality & Leisure; Energy; Wholesale; Health & Medical; and Agriculture. The five least confident were: Travel; Financial Services & Accountancy; Retail; Construction & Building Services; and Advertising & Marketing.

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