The manufacturing lobby group, EEF, is worried about a drop in confidence among UK manufacturers. Elsewhere successive reports ponder the health of the UK economy after the Brexit vote. In short, the times are uncertain and so is the economy. The weaker pound should make exporting easier but at the same time there is an overall lack of confidence and a concern that domestic demand is slipping, alongside falling output.
What can be done to boost business confidence, particularly among manufacturers and particularly as many see manufacturing as a key way of rebalancing the economy?
Strengthening Support for Manufacturing
“Confidence is difficult to nurture but having the right support mechanisms in place is always going to be helpful,” explains Jonathan Barnes, Relationship Director at Santander. “There are things like bolstering supply chain resilience and, of course, financial guidance and assistance, which can help enormously.”
Manufacturing depends on strong, reliable and dynamic supply chains, whether this is in the domestic or export market. Manufacturers may also need to address the constraints they face from skills gaps and a too-narrow market focus.
“There are outside, global economic issues of course,” Jonathan comments, “particularly in a time of economic uncertainty, but there are also ways of looking at manufacturing conceptually, in terms of how to target and attract new markets overseas.”
Strategies for Survival and Growth
Many SMEs are already agile, flexible and competitive, but when it comes to competing on a larger scale, they require support to realise, and maximise their potential.
“For some, improving their supply chain capability can help them participate more fully in the process, as specialist manufacturers,” Jonathan says. “There are also weaknesses in supply chain resilience that businesses can address if they can manoeuvre themselves into a strong, strategic positions.”
“Whether as collaborators, partners or key suppliers, manufacturers should be looking at the concept behind what they can provide, and strengthening this with tangible, financial support where required”
Jonathan Barnes, Santander
Confidence is a tricky but vital issue. Building it requires a combination of vision and practicality, with the right professional support.
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