Britain’s manufacturing sector, for so long the Cinderella of the economy, will grow faster than the all other sectors put together next year, says a survey published today by the manufacturers’ organisation EEF and the business advice and accountancy firm BDO.
Following the survey, which showed manufacturing output heading higher in the final months of this year, EEF is forecasting that the sector will grow by 2.7% in 2014 compared to 2.4% for the economy overall. The improved performance during 2013 has also resulted in EEF revising its forecasts for this year, showing manufacturing contracting by just 0.1% and the economy growing overall by 1.4%
However, EEF warned that the risks to a strong, sustained recovery remained evident with both output and orders balances down on expectations from the previous quarter and with the export picture in particular looking more uncertain than in previous quarters.
Commenting, EEF chief economist, Lee Hopley, said: “Over the course of the year we have seen a definite turnaround in prospects for manufacturing and this looks set to continue into next year. This increased confidence is evident in companies looking to increase their headcount and, most importantly for balanced growth, step up their investment.”
Tom Lawton, head of manufacturing at BDO, said that international markets held the key to a fully-fledged and meaningful improvement for UK manufacturing and these markets remained “frustratingly fragile”. He went on: “We haven’t missed the boat yet, but companies need to stand ready and be supported by an accessible, government-backed export framework in order to take full advantage of the recovery on the continent and beyond once it starts.”
Copyright Ken Hurst 2013