Since we voted to leave the EU in May last year there has been mixed ideas about the ramifications of Brexit across various sectors, not least manufacturing.
Yet, even with the doom and gloom of critics, the Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 56.1, from 53.6 in November 2016 - the strongest reading since June 2014.
Despite the figures and continued success stories, some experts remain skeptical: Samuel Tombs, the economist at the Pantheon Macroeconomics says ‘UK manufacturing is benefitting from both continued brisk growth in domestic demand as well as improving global demand but this momentum will likely peter out in 2017.’ New research has shown that unlike the surge last year, consumers are more cautious about borrowing to spend. The pound's slump after June's vote to leave the European Union helped demand for British exports, but it is unlikely to outweigh the hit to households as the cost of imports rises.
In my sector, consumer manufacturing, there have been a number of Interim Manager roles in Sales and Marketing, a sign that businesses are doing well and are focusing on growth and ramp ups. The industry is booming and with Article 50 triggered this week, it’s imperative that we move forward and ensure continued success. Companies should be focusing on how to take advantage of the high demand and challenges as indeed some of our clients at Interim Partners are doing, given our strong network of change and transformation Interim Executives.
The biggest question should be: “How can we make this growth sustainable?”
The manufacturing industry is struggling to maintain growth at a consistent rate. So, perhaps we should be thinking ahead and looking towards change and development to support our booming sector and build foundations, such as stronger net trade and investment, which would compensate for weaker consumer demand.
Sarah Simpson is Principal of Consumer Manufacturing