Manufacturers must get set for London 2012 economic boost or risk missing out

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Manufacturers are facing one of their most challenging times, but whilst over half are expecting increased demand from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, 29 per cent are in danger of missing out on a potential economic boost because they see them as irrelevant.

As a result, some manufacturers are failing to make basic plans, such as how to deal with the expected dip in staff attendance, or adapting their delivery schedules. Worryingly, 40 per cent are not making any preparations at all.

The BT study surveyed 1,200 organisations of varying sizes across all sectors nationwide. It found that businesses had a generally positive outlook for the Games despite tough economic conditions.

Increased demand for their products and services is anticipated by 55 per cent of manufacturers, with 71 per cent expecting a benefit to their bottom line. Nearly half (42 per cent) expect new international business opportunities both during and after the Games.  However, 40 per cent believe Christmas has a greater impact than the Games.

Whilst the predicted extra million extra visitors is a major opportunity for manufacturers, the majority (87 per cent) do have concerns about negative knock-on effects. Issues like unpredictable dips or surges in demand, staff attendance and employee productivity are amongst the top concerns.

Despite this and the likely upturn in demand, 37 per cent of manufacturers have not made any provisions for the expected dip in staff numbers but are focusing their efforts on short-term solutions, such as adapting their delivery schedules (37 per cent). 24 per cent have no plans to take any action to address potential impacts on their supply chain. Only 10 per cent of manufacturers have introduced new systems or technology that will enable them to manage their supply chain in a more flexible way, suggesting a reluctance to invest in new technology that could provide longer term business agility.

Such issues could be a real threat to hopes of a business boost, particularly given the results of previous BT research on the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, which found that roughly half (49 per cent) of the companies in and around the Canadian city felt they could have done better from the event or missed out on opportunities.

Colin Hansen, the former British Columbia Minister responsible for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, said: "British manufacturers are right to be optimistic because the Olympics had a huge economic benefit in Vancouver and across Canada as a whole. But the scale of the event was much bigger than anybody expected and many companies just weren't geared up for how big the opportunity would be. 

"No manufacturing firms in the UK should expect next summer to be business as usual, but with the right plans in place, they can take advantage of the occasion and seize the long-term economic benefits."

Baroness Jo Valentine, CEO London First, said: "London 2012 will present many opportunities to boost economic recovery and a great deal of planning has gone into providing support for business of all sizes, as well as information on how to minimise disruption. There's still some work to be done but I would urge businesses to talk to their suppliers and customers now so that they can be sure of being ready to make the most of this fantastic event."

Emer Timmons, president, BT Global Services UK, said: "Despite the tough economic climate, we can tell from our own customers that London 2012 presents both challenges and opportunities for manufacturers.  But success or failure depends on how ready they are. There's still time to get plans in place, but with less than seven months to go, we do urge all organisations to begin preparations now or miss out on the economic benefits." 


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