Small manufacturers notch up another quarter of growth, says CBI

Small and medium-sized manufacturers reported another strong quarter of orders and output growth in the three months to July, according to the latest CBI SME Trends Survey.

Domestic orders and output both rose strongly, for the fourth consecutive quarter, and are expected to grow “robustly” again in the next three months.

Numbers employed in the sector shot up in the last quarter, recording the fastest pace of increase since records began in October 1988. However, despite the rise in export optimism, export orders were broadly flat in the three months to July. Nevertheless, firms expect export growth to pick up in the next quarter.

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Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said: “Smaller manufacturers are settling into a regular growth pattern, with their order books and output growing for the fourth consecutive quarter.

“Firms remain upbeat about their business situation and they are hiring at their fastest rate since 1988. But export orders have underperformed this quarter, which may in part be because of the strength of Sterling.

“We need the Government to get behind our small and medium-sized manufacturers to help them to sell their products and services to new markets around the world, giving a sustainable boost to long-term growth.”

Another survey released today - the EEF/NatWest Innovation Monitor - indicates that growing numbers of manufacturers are concerned that their investment in innovation won’t be enough to help them keep pace with their competitors.