Manufacturers expect growth in sales and productivity in 2013

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Following on from the post earlier this morning, the Executive Survey 2013 also asked about manufacturers' predictions of their own performance this year.

Overall, there appears to be some confidence that they will see some growth across key business indicators in 2013. A balance of companies is predicting growth in all the indicators shown in the chart below, with the exception of temporary employees.

Productivity improvements are set to remain a priority in 2013 as over 90% expect to see productivity levels remain the same or improve in the next 12 months. Manufacturers must maintain a continual focus on productivity and efficiency in order to remain competitive both in home markets and overseas. There is a fairly consistent picture across firms of all sizes and in all sectors on this area.

However, there is considerably less size and sector consistency across other indicators:

  • small companies are more optimistic about securing growth in new orders this year in both UK and export sales
  • smaller companies in particular are predicting an improvement in order book visibility
  • whilst all sectors post positive balances on the outlook for export sales, companies in the electrical and optical, and rubber and chemicals sectors were most likely to report expectations of significant growth in overseas demand
  • metals and mechanical equipment have more subdued projections for growth both in UK markets and internationally

Finally, mixed fortunes at home and abroad will inevitably impact on demand for labour and responses indicate that we are likely to see further recruitment activity across the sector this year. Transport equipment and rubber and chemicals companies are set to be moving ahead with headcount expansion this year.

While the economic environment for manufacturers looks no less challenging this year than it was in 2012, it is encouraging that many companies remain confident that they can continue to grow their sales and drive through productivity improvements in the coming year.

Blogs later this week will look in more detail at the markets and strategies that will help to support this growth and some of the factors that could knock manufacturers' growth plans off track.


Senior Policy Researcher

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