New orders and recruitment rise as North West manufacturers end 2017 on a high

Latest quarterly study by by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and accountancy firm BDO, paints a positive picture with growth in the global economy pushing up demand. Tony McDonough reports

North West manufacturers are getting a boost from the growing global economy, says EEF/BDO


Industrial output in the North West has hit an “historic high” according to a new survey with recruitment levels also on the rise.

In the days following the launch of the launch of the UK industrial strategy the latest quarterly study by by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and accountancy firm BDO, paints a positive picture as the year comes to an end.

Its Manufacturing Outlook survey for the fourth quarter shows output across the North West increased significantly to a historic high with a balance of +50% of companies saying their output increased, the joint highest of any UK region.

This was matched by overall orders which also picked up significantly to a historic high of +47%, reflecting the national picture of a sector benefitting from increasing demand from Europe and other growing markets around the world.

This picture is expected to gain momentum in the coming months, the study claims, despite the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit.

Extra capacity

This strong performance and the need for extra capacity has boosted recruitment amongst firms in the North West, with recruitment intentions the highest for three years at 39%. This is driving firms’ investment intentions which have also picked up to +24%.

The mood of optimism amongst North West manufacturers has boosted business confidence which has picked up for the second consecutive quarter as firms approach the New Year.

As a result of the strong conditions for manufacturing through 2017 and the positive outlook for 2018 EEF has upgraded its forecasts for the sector to +2.1% and 1.4% respectively. This is faster than the UK economy overall. 

Global growth

Richard Halstead, director of member engagement for EEF in the North, said: “Stronger global growth has cemented the foundations for growth in manufacturing this year, but the sector’s contribution to the UK economy has been greater than most expected.

“Not only have we seen consistently positive survey responses in each quarter this year, but growth has been evident across all industry segments and UK regions in 2017.

There is some confidence that this momentum will carry into 2018, but as we head towards the Brexit end game we need manufacturing to produce the same trick of broad based growth again next year.”

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