Signs of growth in West Midlands manufacturing

Signs of growth in West Midlands manufacturing

Manufacturers across the West Midlands have enjoyed healthy sales in the first three months of 2016 – with nearly half reporting turnover on the rise.

Figures in the first quarterly business report for 2016 published today by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) show that 46 per cent of manufacturers saw sales jump in the first quarter compared with 31 per cent in the last three months of 2015.

Business leaders in Birmingham welcomed the trends for manufacturers – but said they remained cautious over prospects for the year ahead due to lower forecasts for both UK and global growth.

The report, which is supported by recruitment and people development agency Katie Bard, showed that 35% of manufacturing firms said they had increased their workforce compared with 27% in the autumn quarter for 2015.

Confidence over sales and profits was also up in the manufacturing sector, with 65 per cent of firms optimistic for an increase in turnover over the next year, a substantial rise from the 45 per cent figure in the last quarter of 2015.

Stephanie Wall, GBCC policy and patron adviser, said: “We are pleased to see sales, recruitment and business confidence have improved for Greater Birmingham manufacturers in Q1.  We nevertheless remain cautious of business conditions in the year ahead, which look to remain challenging.

“Forecasts for both UK and global growth have been reduced.  Slower growth naturally impacts trade, which we would expect to be weaker given these forecasts in the year ahead.  We will of course continue to track business sentiment, and our next report is due to be published in June.”