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UK manufacturers pessimistic about return to full operation

Britain’s manufacturers are more pessimistic about when they can return to normal trading conditions than they were just two weeks ago, according to Make UK.

The body, which represents UK manufacturers, found that more than a third of companies (36 per cent) believe it will take more than a year to fully recover compared to 17 per cent in the last biweekly “Covid-19 Manufacturing Monitor”, which was undertaken at the end of April.

Make UK also warned that sales and orders are continuing to fall at an alarming rate while almost a fifth of companies are planning to increase the number of staff on furlough in the next two weeks.

Make UK chief executive Stephen Phipson said: “If we thought we were in for a long haul before now, then this puts into stark context the reality for many companies over the next year.”

“It’s clear that it is going to be a long road back to anything like normal trading conditions and, despite the lockdown beginning to be lifted, there will be a significant impact on companies and jobs for some time to come.”

He added that while the Government has been “very supportive” to date, there might need to be “everything on the table” to ensure the economy is sustained through this difficult period.

According to the monitor, almost 90 per cent of companies are continuing to operate in some form. However, over three quarters (78.3 per cent) have seen a decline in sales while more than four fifths (82.5 per cent) have seen orders fall. Both these figures are a slight increase from those reported in the last survey.

Official figures on Wednesday showed factory output fell by 4.6 per cent in March, and the economy as a whole shrank by an unprecedented 5.8 per cent in what is likely to be a far bigger collapse in activity during the months when the lockdown is in full effect.

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