News: Optimism and Positivity from Manufacturing Group

Posted on 4th October 2017

Resilience & Optimism for Manufacturers despite Brexit uncertainties
SME manufacturers in the UK are more confident around revenue growth, despite Brexit uncertainties, skills shortages and production cost rises. So says this year’s MHA Manufacturing & Engineering annual survey report which is supported by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

The findings of this year’s survey gathered by Sussex and Gatwick-based chartered accountants, tax and business advisers, MHA Carpenter Box, draw on the national and regional insights from over 450 clients and contacts. It identifies opportunities and concerns facing UK manufacturing and engineering businesses and, despite uncertainties over Brexit, 69% reported that they achieved revenue growth over the last 12 months and 78% remain positive about the future.

Without doubt Brexit uncertainty is a significant barrier to growth and 94% of respondents expect further increase in production costs, which are likely to be passed on to customers. Nationally, 20% of respondents stated that they have lost staff or are at risk of losing staff from the EU because of Brexit, however, in the South East the figure is closer to 30%.

Recruiting appropriately skilled staff is a significant issue for 75% of the survey respondents and this was identified as one of the main barriers to achieving business growth over the next 12 months, a problem compounded by staff losses over Brexit. In spite of this, 57% of respondents expect to increase their staff numbers over the next 12 months and 59% are planning to take on apprentices.

The survey highlighted that manufacturers are starting to understand Industry 4.0 opportunities and are looking to government for more tax breaks to help them to accelerate the necessary investment. Many currently do not fully understand the impact of Industry 4.0, which is the name for the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies which can help create ‘smart factories’ and bring more automation to manufacturing and engineering processes.

MHA Carpenter Box Partner Chris Coopey, who heads the Manufacturing Group at MHA nationally, commented: “The resilience and optimism of our manufacturers and engineers highlighted by our survey is a massive positive for the UK in this most uncertain of worlds. Despite the challenges they face the sector remains buoyant.

“We know the skills shortage is already being exacerbated by the loss of both skilled and unskilled staff from the EU. Though apprenticeships are becoming more popular, they will not match demand, so we need to make more using less labour by utilising technology. The fact that the principles around Industry 4.0 are beginning to figure in the sector’s thinking is therefore very good news. Investment seems to be the key to the conundrum of skills shortages and rising costs.”

Mark Burton, Managing Director Lloyds Bank Mid Markets, London and South East, commented:
“Manufacturers across the South coast are exceeding even their own growth forecasts. Uncertainty is affecting the current workforce but the region’s businesses are still achieving high turnovers and businesses are in fact keen to take on more staff.

“A central concern for companies is managing their working capital at the moment, with almost a fifth of firms struggling to manage their cash flow. Lloyds Bank is committed to helping firms manage risk and working capital as part of our Helping Britain Prosper commitment.”

Philippa Oldham who heads Manufacturing and Transport for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, will discuss the main findings of this year’s report at the Manufacturing Engineering and Technology Alliance (METALL #6) meeting on October 19th at the South Lodge Hotel near Horsham.
For more details and to sign up, visit .

Back to News ›


"As MP for Mid Sussex I believe passionately in the importance of a vibrant local business community in order to create and sustain fantastic opportunities that enable people to meet their responsibilities, prosper and fulfil their potential. I am committed to collaborating with BHBPA and others to be an effective collective voice for Burgess Hill."

Mims Davies MP, Member of Parliament for Mid Sussex

"“Sutton Winson have been members of the BHBPA for around 7 years. We have found it a great way to keep in touch with Burgess Hill businesses and to meet with likeminded people. It’s not just another “networking” group, as it tackles the real issues and gets things done”"

Bruce Millington, Manager
(Sutton Winson Ltd)

"The BHBPA is an energetic and vocal organisation that connects and empowers and informs the local business community acting as an effective conduit to local authority and other organisations. We are proud to be part of that community and the association."

Nick Broom, Managing Director
(PVL UK Ltd)

"“I can’t speak highly enough of the BHBPA. As a small local business we feel very much part of a community and thoroughly enjoy the annual exhibition and meetings throughout the year. Over the years we have built fantastic working relationships with many BHBPA members and every meeting and event offers us opportunities to work with more. This is networking at its best! ” "

Judi Arditi, Director
(Travail Employment Group)