SMEs still going for growth - MAS

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Small and medium-sized manufacturers are still going for growth in Yorkshire and Humber, according to the Manufacturing Advisory Service.

MAS says almost three out of five firms have seen orders grow during the last six months and more than half are expecting further growth between now and the end of the year.

Nearly a third of companies are expecting to take on more staff, compared with one in 10 that expect to cut jobs.

Seven out of 10 hope to increase sales by exporting, however the market does appear to be weakening, according to the lates MAS National Barometer.

Just over two out of five firms say enquiries have increased, compared with three out of five, when MAS last carried out its survey of respondents seeing an increase in enquiries, compared with 60% in the last Barometer.

The number of companies considering investment in new machinery and premises over the next six months is also down from just under half to just over two in five.

MAS area director Martin Coats said: “The results are still showing positive signs of growth and expansion, although there are indications among SME manufacturers in Yorkshire and Humber of a more cautious outlook going forward.”

“This is not unexpected when you consider the recent economic forecasts and, historically, it takes a little longer for the slowdown to cascade its way down the supply chain and to the smaller companies However, we have to make sure we don’t talk ourselves into another downturn.”

Companies quizzed as part of the survey included Sheffield-based Torres Pumps.

Managing director Ken Torres said: “We’ve definitely seen more companies in the UK choose to repair or modify their existing pump, therefore commissioning fewer new ones and this is something we’ve had to be aware of and plan for.

“Fortunately, all of our work is bespoke and spans many sectors, including aerospace, food, veterinary, chemical, transport and steel and civil engineering. This means we can withstand this change in the marketplace and, encouragingly, we are still seeing plenty of interest both at home and abroad.”

“Each project throws up new and interesting challenges and we relish the opportunity to provide the solutions.”

The outcome of the MAS survey was welcomed by Paul Firth, regional managing partner of Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office.

Mr Firth said the research showed there were still sectors that were able to thrive in difficult times.

“It is also very positive to see the Yorkshire region reporting stronger than average results in relation to this,” said Mr Firth.

“There is every possibility that Sheffield will have played a key role in this level of performance, specifically as it does have a larger manufacturing base when compared to many other major cities. We hope that these kinds of figures prove to be a strong starting point from which many Yorkshire manufacturing businesses are able to expand and grow over the coming months.”