THE region’s manufacturers have been given a boost after figures from the CBI showed that firms expect further output growth in the coming quarter as demand remains strong.
The CBI’s latest monthly Industrial Trends Survey shows that 27% of UK manufacturers describe total orders as above normal, while 26% said they were below normal.
Although the pace of growth is finely balanced, the figures are an improvement on a negative trend which has hampered the manufacturing industry over recent months.
Even more pleasing is the fact that 128 of the 457 manufacturers questioned still expect solid growth in output during the coming quarter, compared to only 64 firms that expect to see a fall.
Those regions with a strong presence in export markets are also continuing to reap the benefits of the tentative recovery, with export order books picking up slightly this month.
Improving export markets are proving to be a key element of the North-east’s economic recovery, with recent figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) showing that the value of exports for the region in the first quarter of 2011 jumped to £3.4bn, which took the total for the 12 months to the end of March to £12.78bn – nearly 30% higher than a year earlier.
The HMRC report also highlights a 50% increase in car exports from Nissan as helping the fastest growth of any region in the country.
Liz Mayes, assistant regional director of the CBI in the North-east, said: “The latest CBI report will please a lot of manufacturers in the North-east, particularly those that have invested so much in overseas markets.
“The North-east’s reputation as a centre for export is something that is helping attract lot of business and securing a lot of jobs in the region.
“The region still faces a number of challenges over the coming months, particularly those arising from job losses in the public sector.
“However, most of our manufacturers will remain unaffected and separate from this, which is great as it is these businesses that will help our region to recover.”
One area of concern remains the impact of price pressures, with some larger manufacturers preparing to put prices up at the fastest rate since January 1989.
A balance of 27% of manufacturers said they will raise output prices over the coming quarter, an increase on the 24% figure recorded last month.