New official data recording an albeit modest increase in manufacturing production output has been welcomed across the manufacturing spectrum. The July month-on-month figure showed output up 0.2% compared to June although the year-on-year number remained in negative territory, 0.7% down.
The main manufacturing components contributing to the July increase were the category classified as ‘other manufacturing & repair’; the manufacture of miscellaneous machinery and equipment; and the manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that a warm summer had helped output within a number of sectors like beverage production.
Stuart McDonald, managing director at the soft furnishings manufacturer and major John Lewis supplier Herbert Parkinson (pictured), said the July increase was “a sign that the ailing UK economy may be on the road to improvement”. He continued: “This rise has had a positive knock on effect to manufacturing businesses like ours,” adding that, “John Lewis recently announced growth targets for the next two years regarding the sales of products that are made in the UK, with this target in place we’ll see an increased priority in stocking UK-made products, which will not only help support local manufacturing but give us the long-term growth we need.”
Lee Hopley, chief economist at the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, observed that while the expansion was not as strong as in June, output levels were now at their highest for a year with gains spread across a number of sectors.
Mike Rigby, head of manufacturing, Barclays, said the month-on-month figures confirmed that a recovery in the manufacturing sector was starting to look sustainable.
“This is likely to offer increased confidence within the boardroom to make the important investment decisions needed for UK manufacturers to maintain a competitive advantage in both domestic and international markets,” he added.
“Our latest research suggested any such investment was likely to firstly be targeted on capital investment or expansion in established mature markets, ahead of any investment in new product development or entering the faster growing BRIC markets”.
This material is protected by copyright Ken Hurst 2013.