Future is bright, says engineering firm boss
The future is bright despite Brexit, a leading Shropshire businessman insisted today.
Christopher Greenough spoke after it was revealed the UK’s manufacturing levels were at their highest for six years.
He said he is confident 2018 can be another year of growth in the industry.
Mr Greenough, commercial director of Salop Design & Engineering Ltd, believes the manufacturing industry can continue to grow if companies look at new markets and sectors.
Output from UK factories in the three months to November increased by 3.9 per cent compared to the year before, the Office for National Statistics said.
That was the strongest performance since March 2011 and comes as the sector is buoyed by the weakness of the pound since the Brexit vote – which makes British exports cheaper for foreign buyers – as well as the strengthening of the world economy.
Mr Greenough said: “2017 was a great year for UK manufacturing, and I see no reason why we can’t carry on this growth into 2018.
“UK manufacturers maintained a positive outlook in December 2017. The Purchasing Managers’ Index averaged 55.9 in 2017, higher than an annual average of 52.3 in 2016. I see we have the chance in this country, to take control of our own destiny and make a positive future.
“Manufacturing in our region has always been world class, and we have always been at the forefront of invention. With the next Industrial Revolution on us, we have the chance, with central government support and backing, to once again lead the world market.
“We need to look to new sectors and new markets, promote productivity and renewal production techniques, that will make us leaner and greener, and able to compete on a level playing field.”
The latest data suggests manufacturing will make a positive contribution to GDP growth for the final quarter of 2017 – though it has a much smaller impact than the dominant services sector, which represents four-fifths of UK output. Britain’s economy had a tough time in the first nine months of the year as growth slowed amid a squeeze on consumers.
The weakness of the pound has had an unfavourable impact.
GDP grew by 0.4 per cent in the third quarter but recent survey data has indicated the performance could improve for the last three months of the year. However, the latest figures suggested the construction sector was likely to drag on the economy – it grew by 0.4 per cent in November but that followed two months of contraction.
Meanwhile Britain’s goods trade deficit with the rest of the world widened to a higher than expected £12.2bn for the month, though on a three-month basis it narrowed, the ONS said. Mr Greenough said Salop Design, which is based in Shrewsbury, has ambitious growth plans for this year.
“We have already invested over £200,000 in new equipment to enable us to manufacture fabrications and larger assemblies.
“We certainly do not fear what Brexit holds, in fact we embrace the chances that will come our way,” he added.