UK manufacturers expect 2017 to be another year of risks but at the same time are gearing up for the challenges ahead. According to the annual Executive Survey from EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, almost half of companies surveyed see more risks than opportunities in the year ahead. However, in 2017 56% of firms expect to increase their productivity and 50% expect to boost UK sales. Over four in ten respondents expect to see improvements in volumes – 43% in non-EU and 41% in EU exports. As a result, permanent employees and investment levels look set to be moving in the right direction.

Fifty-six per cent of respondents intend to increase productivity through process innovations, while half aim to increase investment in technology and innovation. As well as looking towards 4IR (the 4th industrial revolution) over four in ten firms say they will be working with suppliers and customers to ensure supply chain flexibility.
Other areas where strong efforts could be made include diversifying into new export markets (41%), brand and marketing (40%) and commercialising new technology and product developments (39%).

While Brexit may have amplified risks for 2017, over 66% of firms believe that the UK is a competitive location for their manufacturing activities – up from 56% in 2016.

Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, comments: “In many ways 2017 is likely to be another unprecedented year of change and uncertainty, but the UK manufacturing sector remains ambitious, resilient and adaptable. These strengths coupled with firms’ sophisticated and dynamic business strategies should help keep our sector on course and I would urge the Government to play its part too by ensuring that it implements a strong, robust and comprehensive industrial strategy to support UK manufacturing’s drive for growth and technological innovation.”

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