Industry boost set to continue

Investment needed: Darrell Matthews
Investment needed: Darrell Matthews
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Lancashire’s manufacturing industry is likely to make up more lost ground as the economy picks up in 2014, says an industry leader.

But Darrell Matthews has warned that new investment is needed if the recovery is to be sustained in the long term.

Hopes of a buoyant 2014 were boosted after figures revealed manufacturers enjoyed their best quarter for more than two-and-a-half-years.

The closely-watched Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index – where the 50 mark separates growth from contraction – showed a reading of 57.3 in December, down slightly on November’s 58.1, but marking the ninth month of rising output in a row.

The average reading for the final quarter of 2013 was the highest since the first three months of 2011, at 57.2.

Mr Matthews, North West regional director at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “Manufacturers ended the year on a strong note and rising production, new orders and increased employment in December provided a springboard for growth going into 2014.

“Surer signs of a manufacturing recovery in Europe, together with steady growth both at home, in the US, and emerging markets, should align to support solid expansion of UK manufacturing in the year ahead.

“However, while we can hope to see more of the ground lost during the recession made up this year, we must also start to see new investments coming on stream if the sector is to secure a sustainable, long-term recovery.”

David Noble, chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, said UK manufacturing ended 2013 on a high, with 
all signs of powering ahead into 2014.