New recession fails to damage local hopes

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Manufacturing in the Sheffield City Region is continuing to look forward to a bright future, despite the UK’s slump back into recession.

Government figures show that the British economy contracted by 0.2 per cent in the first three months of the year, on top of a 0.3 per cent fall in the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, UK manufacturing recorded a 0.1 per cent fall, after falling 0.7 per cent in the previous quarter, undermining the Government’s hopes that the sector will lead the recovery.

But, leading industrialists in the Sheffield City Region remain optimistic about the future and dismissive of the new downturn, which one described as ‘tiny’.

Master Cutler Pam Liversidge said order books were holding up because the oil and gas, aerospace, automotive and the health care sectors that local manufacturers supply remain buoyant.

Mrs Liversidge urged local firms to continue investing in people, plant and processes on the basis that demand would improve and they were serving global, not just UK, markets.

Neil MacDonald, finance director of Rotherham-based AESSEAL said: “Technically it may be a double dip recession, but the fall in GDP is so tiny that I’m taking it with a pinch of salt.

“The construction sector has had it bad and the results in the services sector are disappointing, but I think our manufacturing sector is much more robust.

“Certainly, here at AES we are going from strength to strength.”

Andrew Denniff, executive director of Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, said there was no reason to be unnecessarily pessimistic.

“In this part of the world we have recorded some very good figures for manufacturing and for exports. Talking to real businesses out there over the past three months, we have got a much more positive picture,” Mr Denniff added.