East of England manufacturers ‘at their most upbeat for 18 months’, EEF/BDO survey shows

Keith Ferguson of BDO LLP.

Keith Ferguson of BDO LLP. - Credit: Archant

The East of England’s manufacturers have seen a delayed recovery finally arrive in the final quarter of 2016 with much improved growth in output and orders, according to a new report.

The latest Manufacturing Outlook survey from the manufacturers’ organisation EEF and accountants and business advisers BDO LLP shows signs that the sector has left behind the negative effects of low oil prices and concerns about global growth and is now seeing opportunities from a resilient UK market and brightening export prospects.

According to the survey, output in the East of England in the last three months has increased by a balance of plus 21% with a similarly strong performance expected in the coming quarter. New orders for the next three months are also strong at plus 26%, with more companies planning to recruit to meet this demand.

Charlotte Horobin, interim EEF regional director, said: “This is the most upbeat reading on the state of manufacturing we’ve seen for some 18 months and signals the start of brightening conditions, which had been briefly knocked off course following the referendum.

“This anticipated turnaround can be attributed to a range of factors including the resilience, thus far, of the UK economy but also the strengthening of demand in a number of major markets.

“Critically, this should spur some new investment and recruitment activity to meeting fulfil new customer demands,” she added.

Keith Ferguson, partner and head of manufacturing at BDO in the East of England, added: “Despite uncertainty at home and abroad, UK manufacturing is proving to be resilient.

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“It is promising to see that five months on from the referendum, manufacturers in the region are reporting increases in both output and orders.

“The depreciation of sterling is helping manufacturers export more and they are seeing a steady increase in appetite from the EU and US. However, this is putting additional pressure on the cost of raw materials being imported and therefore profit margins for manufacturers, which will ultimately push up prices.”