SME confidence is on the up says MAS

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Confidence among small and medium-sized manufacturers in Yorkshire and Humber has reached a 12-month high, according to the Manufacturing Barometer, published by the Manufacturing Advisory Service.

More than nine out of 10 firms surveyed said they were planning to maintain or increase staffing levels and more than two out of five planned to invest in new technologies, equipment or premises.

Biggest worries were poor profit margins – highlighted by more than half the companies, an inability to meet lead times, mentioned by just under a third, and access to working capital, which affected more than one in five businesses.

Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) area director Martin Coates said: “There appears to be a greater appetite from SMEs for investment in order to remain competitive and I think we are also seeing a desire to create jobs to meet expected demand.”

MAS highlights Sheffield-based Advanced Engineering Techniques as one of the companies which has achieved success, boosting turnover to nearly £10 million since the 2008 recession.

AET managing director David Birch said: “We made a conscious decision to look at the sectors that offered the best chance of sustained growth and decided to move away from smaller sub assemblies to larger projects, such as making full chassis for the bus and coach market.

“This appears to have been the right approach, with 25 per cent growth achieved year-on-year.”

Successes include winning a prestigious contract to supply coach frames to Hong Kong, taking on 30 staff in the last 12 months and investing in new laser cutting, pressbrake, machine shop, paint and shot blasting facilities.