North West manufacturers see activity rebound

Fears of a recession among North West manufacturers ease with new data showing a rebound in activity at the start of 2023. Tony McDonough reports

Manufacturing, manufacturers, skills, work, factory, industry
North West Manufacturers have seen an upturn in activity early in 2023


Manufacturers across the North West are reporting a rise in activity in the first few weeks of 2023, allaying fears of a significant recession.

According to the latest Make UK/BDO Q1 Manufacturing Outlook survey, there was a marked pick up on the picture in the final quarter of 2022.

The figures echo the gradual improvements in other data such as the UK and European PMIs which are now only just in negative territory, as well as a strong pick up in demand from China.

This improvement in the North West in particular could be down to a strong pick up in the aerospace and defence sectors, where the North West has a significant presence. The aerospace sector in particular continues to see a strong rebound from the pandemic.

Both output and orders picked up in the North West with an especially strong order balance of +21%.

This was driven primarily by export orders (+36%) which ties in with the strength of demand in aerospace. On the back of this improving picture, employers’ intentions to both recruit and invest also improved.

Manufacturers in the North West are more confident about prospects with output and orders predicted to increase again, reflected in further improving job prospects.

However, despite the improvement this quarter, Make UK is still cautioning against the worst of conditions being over and is still forecasting a contraction for manufacturing in 2023 as the substantial challenges the sector is facing show few signs of abating.

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Nicola Staley, North West Region Manager at Make UK, said: “Manufacturers in the North West have seen a rebound at the start of the year as conditions have improved in their major markets and business confidence has improved.

“However, one swallow doesn’t make a summer and it is far too early to say the worst has passed given the significant challenges the economy faces.

“However, the Budget should help boost investment in the short to medium term although ideally, full expensing should be made permanent to better reflect the investment cycle for manufacturers.”

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