11 Aug 2022

Optimistic vibes for 2022 manufacturing prospects

Make UK

At the start of each year Make UK publishes a survey of the views of Senior Manufacturing Executives of the year ahead. The survey covers a broad range of topics on both the opportunities and risks that companies see, as well as their views on the hot political issues. Make UK chief executive, Stephen Phipson reports.

The good news from the 2022 survey is that manufacturers are much more optimistic about their prospects having weathered the storm of the last couple of years with almost three quarters of companies now believing conditions for the sector will improve in 2022.

A similar number also believe the opportunities for their business outweigh the risks, especially as, to date, the sector appears to have seen little or no disruption from the latest Omicron variant to alter this confidence. Indeed, the survey shows companies are more optimistic about their own prospects than they are for the UK or global economies.

Furthermore, almost two thirds of companies felt the UK to be a competitive location for manufacturing with just 13% believing it to be an uncompetitive place to do business. To take advantage of these opportunities manufacturers are prioritising improving productivity, investment in their people as well as new product development, while the recent COP 26 summit appears to have accelerated investments in the drive to ‘net zero’. The more positive outlook for growth is reflected across all major markets with 40% of companies forecasting growth in exports to the United States, closely followed by the EU.

Around a quarter are looking for growth in Asia and around one in five to the Middle East. However, the EU market is set to see the biggest decrease in exports by 10% of companies while, one year on from leaving the EU, two thirds of companies said that leaving had moderately or significantly hampered their business, with over a half of companies fearing a further impact this year from customs delays due to import checks and changes in product labelling. Overall, however, the survey shows that for those companies that are remaining agile, innovative, and adaptable the upcoming year will see a far more positive outlook after the turbulence of the last couple of years.