You don’t have to look very far, right now, to find pessimistic forecasts with regard to manufacturing in the UK. The picture is broadly similar worldwide, but it’s true that seeing it up close reveals specific concerns that are of particular note to the UK sector. For a number of reasons, which have been talked about ad nauseam, this is a very challenging moment for manufacturing, and particularly when it comes to manufacturing for export.
Whether or not pessimism is the correct response, it is fair to say that simply observing the difficulties will not make a positive difference in manufacturing. It is essential to at least remain vigilant for opportunities to turn some of the negatives into something more positive. While we can only acknowledge that there are reasons to be gloomy in a world where health and geopolitics are delivering unpalatable news on a regular basis, the industry can only pull through and thrive again if we look for reasons to be cheerful.
Costs are falling in many areas
On one hand, we have heard recently that the UK manufacturing sector is gong to fall into recession in 2023. On the other, there have been figures emerging for some time to suggest that it was already in recession and that in 2023 the fall may begin to level out. Pressures aren’t going away, but the information on material costs is positive. Fuel prices are falling, and the sector is also in with a chance to benefit from falling metal costs. Those businesses that have weathered the early storm may see 2023 as a chance to work with a lead generation agency and seek out new clients, benefiting from those relaxed costs. If there is ever a benefit to an economic slowdown, it’s the chance to rebuild inventory at lower cost.
China may be opening up more
A significant driver of the manufacturing slowdown worldwide has been the Covid pandemic, which is now in its fourth year of affecting consumer and commercial decisions. One of the largest contributory factors to that effect has been the Zero Covid policy of the Chinese government, which slammed the brakes on the import of products into one of the world’s biggest markets. In recent months, though, China’s industries and communities have started opening up again, and demand is already beginning to warm up. For companies that make components and parts, the chance to sell into that market once more could be transformative. Tech investment is already on the rise once more.
Caution is still essential
There are certainly positives to be taken from the overall picture right now, but if the last few years have taught us anything, it is that the picture can change in the blink of an eye. So while there are definitely reasons to be positive, it’s important to adopt a form of positivity that accepts the possibility of unforeseen circumstances. If you’re in manufacturing, or exploring the potential for getting into the market while it’s on a relative ground floor, do make sure that any plan you adopt has space for a large and fluid amount of contingency; it’s never going to be a bad idea to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.