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Manufacturing: April round-up

By Jo Whittle
30 April 2021

April’s round-up of the latest news in the manufacturing sector in the South East.

The manufacturing outlook on the first quarter of 2021: More good than bad, despite Covid and Brexit

The beginning of 2021 has caused a lot of disruption in many sectors, manufacturing included. Covid and Brexit have turned the world upside down, but despite changes and issues around export and employment in the sector, the Manufacturing Outlook 2021 Quarter 1 report published by Make UK and business advisory firm BDO suggests that the bigger picture for the manufacturing sector is more positive than negative. According to the report, the sector’s response has shown growing, economic confidence and a change for the better in business.

Confidence 6.5 Confidence increased for the 3rd quarter in a row
Output 9% Output balance positive for the first time since Q1 2020
UK orders 6% UK orders balance positive for the first time since since Q2 2019
Export orders -8% Export orders falls as the impact of Brexit slows trade
Employment -6% An improved employment balance highlights job losses are slowing
Investment -6% Investment intentions improves but remains negative in balance

Source: Make UK Manufacturing Outlook SurveyHowever, the ramifications of Brexit have left businesses, and especially SMEs, with bureaucratic procedures they have to navigate. Lack of experience and lack of budget are the key factors that create a wall that is more difficult to overcome for small companies than for bigger businesses that can allow themselves to handle those costs.

“After the seismic shock to the sector last year, manufacturers in the South East are seeing a slow road to recovery, especially given the major structural issues affecting the automotive sector and its supply chain. The major cloud on the horizon, however, remains the transition to new trading arrangements with the EU which go beyond ‘teething troubles’,” said Jim Davison, region director for Make UK in the South East.“Government must recognise this and work with industry and the EU to smooth these problems out, or the problems we are seeing now will become structural and permanent. This will have long-term consequences for exporters who will lose business and importers who will choose to give up on the UK market altogether.”

More about this: South East: Manufacturers start year with mixed picture

New appointments, growth and improvement

Despite the negative impact of Brexit on manufacturers, The Business Magazine has been pleased to see the incoming stories about continual progress and growth of business in the South East.

We were happy to share with our readership that Hampshire-based precision engineering business RHH Franks appointed a new sales director, John Atkins. The New Milton firm celebrated its 60th trading year and expanded its factory on the Gore Road Industrial Estate in New Milton, where newly appointed Atkins is based now.

Read more: New Milton: Engineering firm welcomes new sales director.Another story about a new appointment came to us from Bicester-based company Seychell Engineering and Fabrication. Not only did the company appoint Dave Skidmore as its operations manager, but it also began with a roll-out of a major investment in training and equipment; this is all following the acquisition of the company by Go2 Engineering Group in late 2020.

“This a very exciting time for the business. We became part of the Go2 Engineering family in late 2020 and ever since the focus has been on investing in our people, both in terms of their own specific skill sets and the equipment that we are bringing to the facility,” explained Skidmore.

Read more: Bicester: Seychell appoints new operations manager.More good news from JB Corrie, one of the UK’s leading fencing design, manufacturing and installation companies.

Gordon McKinnell joined this family-owned company as a sales and operations manager.

“It is an exciting time to join this progressive company with such a strong history,” McKinnell said. “As well as being the leading suppliers and manufacturers in fencing and steel fabrications across a range of sectors, we are seeing soaring demand for our padel courts.”

Read more: JB Corrie appoints new sales and operations manager.Lastly, we finish this manufacturing round-up with a story about £10 million investment in a manufacturing company based in Oxfordshire.

BGF – the UK’s most active growth capital investor – invested £10 million in Polar Technology Management Group, a business that manufactures high-performance carbon and metal components for the automotive, medical and aerospace/defence sectors.“We have known the team at Polar Technology Management Group for some time and seen them deliver year-on-year. We are excited to partner with them to support the long-term growth of the business. The company has an impressive management team in Scott, Mike and Dale, and some very exciting technologies both already delivered and in development. We look forward to the growth of this exciting company as it looks to the future,” said one investor at BGF.

Read more: BGF invests £10 million in Oxfordshire-based technology business

For more stories from the manufacturing sector, click here.

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