UK exporters rediscover their mojo

British manufacturing has had a tough time lately. But are things finally looking up?

by MT Staff
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
At a time of much economic uncertainty, it's good to find snippets of positive news. And here's one: British manufacturers are starting to sound bullish about their export prospects again. According to the CBI’s latest trend survey, 15% more firms expect the pace of overseas orders to speed up rather than slow down. That’s good news at the best of times, but it's particularly useful right now - and particularly after a fairly grim summer...
Fuelled by recovery overseas, UK manufacturing is cranking back into business. Our producers are planning the highest level of investment for 13 years; in the last quarter they took on staff at the fastest rate since January 1989. Brit manufacturers GKN, the aeroplane parts maker, and tech firm Senior have just reported impressive profits too. And there are those who say British manufacturing died out with the Carry On film. What’s going on?
CBI chief economic adviser Ian McCafferty ushered in the good cheer by describing the recovery as ‘well grounded’, and added that it was set to continue, ‘despite a soft patch last quarter’.

Arguably, that's putting it lightly: according to the CBI’s report, orders have fallen well below normal levels to hit a six-month low. Between July and October, the number of businesses with below-average orders jumped from 16% to 28%, largely because of a slowdown in overseas sales.
Admittedly there's not much good cheer around at the moment. According to Reuters’ confidence index, wider economic optimism is at its lowest level since a couple of years back, when the whole system almost went belly-up - only 27% of those surveyed believe the UK's economic outlook will improve over the next 12 months, while 48% fear the economy will get worse. But that makes our manufacturers' bullish approach to investment all the more impressive. Who said the good old stiff upper lip was dead?
After suffering more than other sectors in the downturn, manufacturing seems to be recovering better than most. And while it was hardly in a position to have got much worse, these are still encouraging signs. Indeed, the upcoming November issue of MT is dedicated to the continued success of British business. The good news: it's a healthy issue.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Social responsibility may no longer be a choice

Editorial: Having securitised businesses’ loans and paid their wage bills, it’s not inconceivable the government...

What went wrong at Wirecard

And how to stop it happening to you.

Leadership lessons from Jürgen Klopp

The Liverpool manager exemplifies ‘the long win’, based not on results but on clarity of...

How to get a grip on stress

Once a zebra escapes the lion's jaws, it goes back to grazing peacefully. There's a...

A leadership thought: Treat your colleagues like customers

One minute briefing: Create a platform where others can see their success, says AVEVA CEO...

The ignominious death of Gordon Gekko

Profit at all costs is a defunct philosophy, and purpose a corporate superpower, argues this...