Manufacturers in the West Midlands are leading the way when it comes to business confidence and exports, according to a new report.
The annual report by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and law firm DLA Piper – Regional Manufacturing Outlook - draws upon survey data and the latest ONS figures to provide a longer-term picture of the state of UK manufacturing.
It revealed manufacturers in the West Midlands are in pole position in the business confidence league.
The region scores 6.86 out of a possible ten points for confidence, placing it first out of nine regions and indicating Midland manufacturers are feeling more confident than their peers anywhere elsewhere in the UK.
The region also scores highly for exports, making the second biggest contribution to the UK’s total manufactured exports at 12.1 per cent.
It means one in every eight pounds earned from the UK’s manufactured exports is made in the West Midlands.
The EU is the UK’s largest market for manufacturing exports and this also applies to the West Midlands with the EU taking 40 per cent of the region’s goods exports.
However, the region’s second biggest market, Asia, accounts for 27 per cent - the highest proportion out of all the UK regions.
At the same time, the West Midlands is the UK’s 6th highest region in terms of manufacturing output.
The sector accounts for 13.9 per cent of regional output and contributes 10.1 per cent to the UK’s overall manufacturing output. Productivity in the region – at 88.2 per cent - is however relatively low compared with other regions.
The report also reveals manufacturers in the West Midlands employ 13 per cent of the region’s total workforce, meaning almost 336,000 people are now employed by manufacturers across the region.
Companies have now reported nine consecutive quarters of output growth and the region has continued its strong run into 2015. Future prospects also look to be strong.
Richard Halstead, Midlands and East Region director at EEF, says: “This report shows that West Midlands’ manufacturers are punching above their weight and putting our region on the map.
“Our region is making the second biggest contribution to the UK’s manufactured exports and this success story enables our ingenuity, creativity and skills to be recognised around the world and particularly in Europe, our biggest export market.
“Manufacturers in the region are feeling more confident than any of their peers. And, with future forecasts looking good for growth, orders and employment, their optimism is well founded and likely to keep them flying high for some time to come.”
Noel Haywood, partner in DLA Piper’s Birmingham office, said: “The success of the West Midlands manufacturing sector and the focus on the sector in this region remain huge positives in the local market.
“Consistent and sustained output growth, strong exposure to high performing sector segments such as automotive and a healthy and globally diversified export market all underpin the regions confidence and the reasons why the region will maintain this confidence for some time to come. The criticality of innovation and access to skilled labour remain, but the region has good reason to be positive.”