Manufacturers in East Anglia in confident mood, EEF/BDO Manufacturing Outlook survey reveals

Jim Davison, EEF regional director in the East of England.

Jim Davison, EEF regional director in the East of England. - Credit: SOLENT NEWS AND PHOTOS

Manufacturers in East Anglia are approaching the end of the year in confident mood, with hiring intentions for the beginning of 2015 more positive than any other UK region or nation, according to a new survey.

The latest Manufacturing Outlook report from the manufacturers’ organisation EEF and accountancy and business advice firm BDO LLP, shows a balance of 19% of companies in the region reporting an increase in output during the final quater of 2014.

Strong output is having a positive impact on the labour market, with 25% of manufacturers in the region expecting to hire more staff in the first quarter of 2015, the highest figure anywhere in the UK regions.

Order books for manufacturers in the region remain fairly stable, with a balance of 13% of companies seeing orders increase in the final quarter and an identical proportion expecting growth in orders in the opening three months of next year.

UK-wide, the sector is on track to achieve 3.5% growth this year, with 2% growth forecast in 2015. One area of caution, however, is in exports, with geo-political risks, global uncertainty and the weak performance of the eurozone contributing to a more cautious outlook.

Jim Davison, EEF’s East of England region director, said: “2014 has proved to be a solid year for East Anglian manufacturers. As we steam into 2015, it’s going to be a case of ‘steady as she goes’ with firms viewing next year with a mixture of grit, determination and realism.

“There have been some notable areas of strength this year, especially among sectors relying on demand in the home market. The fact that companies have continued to recruit shows they have a positive view of their prospects ahead.”

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Keith Ferguson, a partner at BDO in East Anglia, added: “The results come as welcome news to our regional economy and jobs market. Working against the headwinds of poor export markets, the strength and resilience of sector firms have once again shone through this year.

“What’s exciting, yet equally frustrating, is that manufacturers would have even more growth potential if the right support was in place. The Chancellor must do his bit in this week’s Autumn Statement to back businesses looking to invest, recruit and move into new markets.”