Manufacturers in Britain are more optimistic about their industry than they were a year ago.
The Manufacturing Hazard Warning Report, recently released by Zurich Insurance plc, found that more than three-quarters of Britain's manufacturers (78 percent) are feeling bullish, particularly because they are looking abroad for new opportunities.
Domestic demand remains at a stand-still, but the study revealed that UK manufacturers are turning to emerging markets, namely China and India.
Nearly half (47 percent) of those polled agreed the onus is on them, rather than government or regulators, to break into these new markets. However, 60 percent of the larger businesses said they feel exposed to the risks associated with emerging markets clearly illustrating that heading into unknown territories involves both opportunities and challenges.
Interestingly, survey participants said the three most important factors in terms of business growth are:
the uncertainty of the economy,
the need to break into emerging markets and
supply chain issues.
I was somewhat surprised to see that financing is no longer a major concern. Only a mere 2 percent cited availability of credit as a key challenge to the future of their industry. Likewise, the need to attract skilled workers and sustainability were also low on the list of current concerns (even though, 32 percent of those polled said they consider their companies highly exposed to risk from "green issues").
"The manufacturing sector has always been a key indicator of how well the economy is faring. This analysis shows that, even in times of unstable growth, not only are UK manufacturers optimistic about the future but unfazed by the rhetoric surrounding a lack of finance," Steve Green, European Middle Market Network Leader, Zurich Insurance plc, explained. "The findings show that manufacturers have a cautious optimism about the year ahead, that they are excited to break into new markets but perhaps require the necessary insight and expertise in order to achieve this goal."