Strong overseas demand brings festive cheer to manufacturers in the East

Demand from overseas has boosted the manufacturing sector in Q4. PIC: Rob Watkins

Demand from overseas has boosted the manufacturing sector in Q4. PIC: Rob Watkins - Credit: Archant

Strong overseas demand for British products has given manufacturers in the East of England reason for festive cheer, according to a survey published by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation and accountancy and business advisory firm BDO.

The Manufacturing Outlook survey for the fourth quarter shows output across the region increased to the highest level in three years at +48%, the second highest of any UK region.

Overall orders increased to a historic high and the highest of any UK region at +52%.

Regional director for EEF in the East of England, Charlotte Horobin, said this reflects the national picture of a sector benefitting from increasing demand from Europe and other growing markets around the world.

She 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.”

The survey also showed that this strong performance and the need for extra capacity continues to boost recruitment amongst firms in the East of England, with recruitment intentions the highest in three years at +35%. Investment intentions also picked up for the third consecutive quarter to +26%.

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The rosy picture was also reflected in yesterday’s UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) figures, which jumped to 58.2 and showed that November was the best month for British factories in more than four years.

Ms Horobin added: “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.

“As we see more companies investing and capitalising on global growth, we’ve become more upbeat in our forecasts for the growth outlook. Government’s industrial strategy is now out of the starting blocks but it needs to maintain a steady pace on delivery of its policy commitments to anchor manufacturers’ growth and investment in the year ahead.”