Manufacturing optimism in the three months to April improved at its quickest pace since April 1973, while investment intentions saw a strong, broad-based rebound, according to the latest CBI quarterly Industrial Trends Survey.
The survey of 288 manufacturers found that firms expect to increase capital expenditure on buildings, plant & machinery, product & process innovation, and training & retraining in the next year (relative to the last). In particular, investment intentions for plant & machinery were at their strongest since July 1997.
Manufacturing output was broadly flat in the quarter to April, while total new orders grew at the quickest pace since April 2019. Both output and orders growth are expected to pick up rapidly in the next quarter. Domestic orders grew at their fastest pace since July 2018 and firms anticipate this will improve further. Meanwhile, export optimism for the year ahead strengthened after successive decline over almost three years. New export orders stabilised after falling for nearly two years and are expected to hold steady in the quarter ahead.
The latest Manufacturing Barometer aims to uncover if COVID-19 could change industry working practices forever
The UK’s largest survey of small to medium-sized (SME) manufacturing companies will record trends in performance and confidence levels across the sector, whilst also exploring how firms are supporting their staff as a result of COVID-19.
The Manufacturing Barometer, which is organised by SWMAS (the South West Manufacturing Advisory Service) and the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), is looking to understand how the pandemic has accelerated new working practices that may have unearthed potential operational benefits.