Optimism surges amongst smaller manufacturers, CBI survey reveals


The level of optimism amongst the UK’s smaller and medium-sized manufacturers has reached the highest levels since records began in 1988, figures obtained from the CBI’s latest SME Trends Survey have revealed.

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The CBI SME Trends Survey was conducted between 24 March and 09 April 2014, with 366 smaller manufacturing firms replying to the questionnaire, and suggests that total orders and output rallied in the three months to April. The number of employed staff also recorded a sharp boost, and employment is expected to grow at an even stronger pace during the next quarter.

The Survey states that 39% of firms reported an increase in total new orders and 19% said they decreased, giving a balance of +20%, while 36% of firms said domestic orders increased and 18% said they decreased, giving a balance of +18%.

Furthermore, 46% of firms said they were more optimistic regarding their business situation, while 10% said they were less optimistic, giving a balance of +36%. This was the fourth consecutive rise in business optimism, with the survey balance the highest on record (since October 1988).

The number of employees rose sharply (+16%), outpacing expectations (+6%), but robust growth in headcount is also expected in the coming quarter (+24%) while plant and machinery investment intentions remained firmly positive, and at their strongest since July 1995 (+14%).

Katja Hall, CBI Chief Policy Director, commented on these findings: “It’s very encouraging to see record levels of optimism among smaller manufacturers, on the back of robust growth in domestic and export orders, and a leap in output levels.

Hiring is also on the up, and is set to strengthen as we look ahead into 2014.

“As confidence beds in, we need to see more firms exporting their products to high-growth markets across the globe, giving a healthy and sustainable boost to the UK’s recovery.”

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