The seventh national survey of UK businesses from QBE, the business insurance specialist, shows 68% of manufacturers expect a two year wait or more before there is a full economic recovery. The negative mood is matched by 56% of the industry's businesses being worried that trading will be difficult if the conditions persist for another 12 months.
Less than a third (29%) of manufacturing businesses plan to increase their staff numbers during the next 12 months.
Lessons of the recession
Many of the sector's businesses believe their operations have been strengthened by the lessons learnt in recent years, with 62% saying that the economic difficulties have made them a more efficient business.
However, looking ahead it is concerning that many of the sector's businesses are relying on being leaner (67%), facing fewer competitors (48%) and better deals from suppliers as their way out of the economic difficulties. On a more positive note, many manufacturing businesses have looked to new markets, with more than half (57%) saying they are developing a new product or service, and 44% claiming to have better management skills as a result of the economic difficulties. Finally, 54% of manufacturing businesses now claim to have greater awareness of their individual customer needs as a result of the economic difficulties.
Elliot Miller, General Manager National, QBE European Operations, commented: "It's clear that it remains a very challenging market. However, there are some positive signs that companies are adapting in response to the economic climate, with particular emphasis on innovation and customer service."
Data from the survey can be found at: www.qbeeurope.com/news/research.asp