UK manufacturing has taken a hit in the media with Brexit woes and general economic vulnerability. With Article 50 and its as yet unknown repercussions slowly edging closer, current uncertainty is making forecasting tricky and the daily running of business even more so.
But is it all doom and gloom? Certain areas of manufacturing are certainly feeling more bullish about the future than others, with the UK’s aerospace sector currently the largest in Europe and second globally to the USA, generating well-paid jobs and high-tech exports. Leaders in the sector, such as Boeing and Raytheon are remaining positive with Boeing’s UK plans not set to change and Raytheon referring to Brexit as a ‘long play’, aiming to adapt to market conditions.
Smaller more vulnerable manufacturing businesses can look to insulate themselves from potential repercussions by exploring local options in more depth. These can include sourcing more components locally, increasing export opportunities brought about by the weaker pound, reshoring by moving production back to the UK to improve lead times and quality control, as well as capitalising on the greater demand for bespoke products.
Looking at the immediate future, the latest industrial trends survey from the CBI highlights that the UK’s manufacturing output has eased back in the three months to August. Growth has slowed slightly, but the sector is still expanding – and the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) indicates that Eurozone activity in August was at its highest for seven months. Taking small steps and not being overwhelmed by vast hypotheses seems to be the way forward for now, with prudent decision-making and a steady eye on market movements being the best course for UK manufacturers to steer their way through the next few months at least.