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New head of manufacturing predicts bright future for sector in South East

Tony Summers, the newly appointed head of manufacturing at Sussex-based MHA Carpenter Box, sees a bright future for engineering companies in the South East, following an increase in sector revenues highlighted by the 2019/2020 MHA Manufacturing & Engineering Report.

Growth in overall income and net assets – and an increase in R&D spend – provides a solid foundation for future expansion, although the report also flags challenges around skills shortages and access to finance.

Tony Summers commented: “It’s interesting to see that while global economic conditions, Brexit/future trading tariffs and staff shortages impacted the rate of growth, SMEs remain buoyant and are building resilience by increasing their assets, reducing borrowing and re-evaluating supply chains.” 

As head of manufacturing for MHA Carpenter Box, Tony advises engineering clients and also plays a key role in METALL, a well-established forum for manufacturing, engineering and technology businesses in Sussex, South Surrey and the Gatwick Diamond. His role reflects his extensive experience of working with manufacturing and engineering businesses.

Summers added: “The report provides a useful snapshot of the health of manufacturing and highlights the challenges that lay ahead, including technological change, regulatory uncertainty and the ongoing problem of skills shortage. However, the sector has delivered growth through what has been a challenging period and I’m confident that it will continue to thrive given the opportunities presented by the increasing focus by the Government on industrial strategy and decarbonisation.”

Key findings from manufacturers’ responses:

  • Revenue has grown year on year
  • Growth in Net Assets grew from £9.97bn in 2017 to £10.49bn
  • Borrowing is down 58 per cent
  • Post-Brexit trading: 61 per cent of respondents have a Brexit strategy in place
  • 78 per cent have difficulty recruiting appropriately skilled staff
  • 64 per cent of manufacturers invest up to 8% in R&D
  • 13 per cent stated a lack of financial backing to invest

The report, now in its eighth year, and is supported by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking in association with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. To provide broader context, a quantitative and qualitative approach was taken to compile this year’s report, comparing an in-depth analysis of over 1,000 UK companies, with over 230 client responses.

To view the report go to: www.carpenterbox.com/manufacturing-report

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