Stellar year for Midlands manufacturers as confidence soars

X The Business Desk

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West Midlands manufacturing has had a stellar year, with output and order balances the highest of any region in the second quarter of 2017.

A new report out today from EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation and BDO, the accountancy and business advisory firm, shows that since March 2010, manufacturing jobs in West Midlands have increased by 9.9%, more than four times the national growth rate.

The annual report – Regional Manufacturing Outlook – draws in survey data and the latest ONS figures to provide a longer-term and in-depth picture of the health of UK manufacturing.

This year, it reveals that the West Midlands now boasts 14,670 manufacturing businesses in the region – up 3.1% year on year – and confidence over the last 12 months is the joint highest in the UK and the most improved from last year.

The region also continues to enjoy an extremely strong export performance, accounting for 10.9% of all UK manufactured exports in 2016 – the second largest contribution by any single region, behind only the South East and London. 46.9% of the region’s exports are destined for the EU, well below the national average.

Investment intentions also remain positive and above the UK average since the start of 2017. Key to the West Midlands impressive performance has been its concentration in the transport sector – the highest of any region across Britain – and in particular automotive manufacturers. The car industry continues to benefit from much improving global demand in what is a heavily export-intensive sector. These factors have delivered the impressive regions export balance, which rose to the highest level of any area in the second quarter of 2017.

Charlotte Horobin, EEF West Midlands region director, says: “Despite some challenging times, manufacturing in the West Midlands remains strong and the region has been one of the best performers over the last year. Firms are really in their stride with our export figures accounting for an impressive 10.9% of all UK manufactured exports.

“Our output and order balance is the strongest of any region, and our automotive and transport sector continues to do well supported by an upturn in global demand. Our export strength will help us through the uncertain waters which lie ahead and we look forward to a continued strong performance in the next quarter.”

 Tom Lawton, partner and head, BDO Manufacturing in the West Midlands, says: “West Midlands has been one of the star performers over the past year and this is reflected in the regions first place confidence ranking, strong export market and investment intentions and increasing manufacturing jobs.

“However to ensure continued growth, we need the Government to deliver a long-term, practical Industrial Strategy for the UK and the Regions – with a focus on the mid-market and investing in education, skills and in the Midlands infrastructure. From better roads, rail links to reliable broadband connections and support for Industry 4.0, the Government needs to help create the right environment for Midlands manufacturers’ to continue to be successful in what will undoubtedly be challenging times in the short and medium term.”