NI: Manufacturing survey sponsored by Tughans reveals positive results

NI: Manufacturing survey sponsored by Tughans reveals positive results

Pictured (l-r): James Donnelly of Tughans; Stephen Kelly of Manufacturing NI; and Maureen Treacy of Perceptive Insights

The latest manufacturing survey from Belfast firm Tughans and industry body Manufacturing NI has revealed positive growth, sustained products and increased staffing levels in the sector.

According to the report, The State of Northern Ireland Manufacturing 2018, over two-thirds (67 per cent) of respondents consider the uncertainty of Brexit to be the biggest issue currently affecting business, up from 56 per cent in May 2018.

Against this background, 80 per cent of those surveyed described their business as being in a position of growth whilst 57 per cent said they expected that growth to continue in the next 12 months.

Most (57 per cent) firms reported an increase in staffing levels, compared to 45 per cent in May 2018, with 62 per cent planning to take on more workers in the next year.

As Brexit looms, half of respondents said they believe that it will have a negative impact on business. A third have conducted a Brexit risk assessment, 30 per cent have put contingency plans in place, and 16 per cent are already stockpiling in anticipation of supply disruption. Another 42 per cent plan to stockpile to ensure continuity of supply.

Other barriers to growth include problems recruiting the appropriate skills to meet orders, bureaucracy and government policy areas.

Looking to the next 12 months, manufacturers are planning ongoing investment with 72 per cent intending to increase spend on sales and marketing; 71 per cent aiming to upgrade or introduce new facilities and machinery and 61 per cent focusing on R&D or product development.

James Donnelly, corporate partner at Tughans, said: “The generally positive mood revealed in the survey is encouraging despite the many real and potential challenges the sector is facing.

“With the majority of surveyed businesses - 89 per cent - actively recruiting, it remains a concern that 81 per cent have found difficulty in recruiting the skills required and that 21 per cent are turning down potential business opportunities as a result. Whilst the sector is doing its best to mitigate against the skills deficit, there is no doubt that a restoration of local government would be of great benefit to address this.”

The Manufacturing NI and Tughans manufacturing survey was carried out in December 2018 by Perceptive Insight.

Respondents represented companies from across Northern Ireland including those employing up to 1,000 people with the majority in the 10-49 bracket. The top three manufacturing sectors who completed the survey were machinery and equipment; wood, paper products and printing; other manufacturing and repair.

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