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Manufacturing News – Late March 2024

Estimated reading time 3 minutes

Confidence levels among manufacturers remain robust despite the weak outlook for the UK economy overall, according to the Q1 Manufacturing Outlook survey published today by Make UK and business advisory firm BDO.

The survey shows that, while the general economic picture is flat, there are stark sectoral and regional imbalances, with electronics, aerospace and food and drink powering ahead, whilst the South East and Wales are performing substantially better than other regions and devolved nations.  According to Make UK, these imbalances for both sectors and regions are now becoming permanent, with the strong performance of manufacturing in the South East providing yet further evidence that levelling up is failing to address regional economic imbalances.

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East Midlands manufacturers are facing a mixed outlook as they enter the new year, yet confidence remains resilient despite the overall weakness of the UK economy, according to new figures.

Make UK predicts modest growth for manufacturing, with forecasts indicating a 0.1% increase in 2024 and 0.8% in 2025, both lagging behind the broader economy.

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The number of UK sectors reporting output growth hit a 10-month high in February, with companies indicating rising demand and spreading business optimism, according to the latest Lloyds Bank UK Sector Tracker.

In February, ten of the 14 UK sectors monitored by the tracker reported output growth. This was two more than in January (eight), the most since April 2023 (ten), and pointed to a broadening out of expansion across the UK economy, which is good news for manufacturing.

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The Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), which consists of six sub-contract manufacturers, an electric motor consultancy and a specialist engineering design agency, has seen a £20m increase in orders, with several high-profile export contracts secured in the EU, the Middle East, and the Far East.

These new opportunities are being reinforced by a £4.5m investment drive in new capital equipment, automation, MRP systems and a Precision Tooling Academy to train the toolmakers of the future.

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An equity buy-out has completed at Rotherham-based Industrial Pumps Group (IPG) Ltd.

Company managing director, Dave Carley, and sales director, David Stacey, have taken full control of the business for the first time since they completed on a management buyout (MBO) in 2016.  It follows a period of growth and profitability for the company.

The duo initially took over the business from its previous owner in 2016 as part of a management buyout deal facilitated by a £500,000 investment from UKSE – an organisation which focuses on helping businesses in former steel areas with investments, loans and premises.

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