We’re just over six months into 2023 now, and it feels like it continues to be turbulent for the UK manufacturing industry, but is that the case?

This month our Marketing Manager, Sarah, looks at some key pointers that suggest that things are not always as gloomy as some reports would have us believe. 


Why do we feel this way? 

I suspect that you’re reading this, thinking, what on earth does a Marketing Manager know about the state of UK manufacturing? 

Part of my job is to spend a lot of time reading articles, tracking what is happening in business and how the UK manufacturing sector is performing to understand better what our clients may be facing. This helps us continually improve our services, but it’s also incredibly interesting to see how we, as an industry, react to the challenges we face.

We’ve definitely had some challenges in the last couple of years, haven’t we? 


People ARE investing in their business software.

First, we want to get it put there that people are spending money. We know of a number of businesses that are starting to put in new ERP systems. And as most of you know, these are not insignificant investments! Yes, we are still suffering from the effects of the cost of energy and supply chain issues. Interestingly, there appears to be two ways of thinking about this in the customer base. 

Some are carrying on as is and working with what they know. Of course, nothing is wrong with that; it can be the right answer, but in some cases, if you do the same as you always have, you will likely get the same results. 

Then others choose to invest their way out of our current issues. 

That could be by implementing a new ERP, such as SyteLine, or making tweaks to their existing solutions. By doing this, they are looking at investment in new software as a longer-term strategy. Recently, looking at a  new ERP system for an SME, we discovered their investment over the first five years related to significantly less than one year’s turnover. 

When you look at it like that, it’s not the scary spend that we can be led to believe. Especially if that investment allows you to tighten up on efficiency and can promote growth across the business. 


People are going to shows 

We’ve spoken before about our love of attending the various UK exhibitions related to UK manufacturing and the SyteLine User Conference. One of the things that we’ve noticed is that the attendance of these has made a significant bounce back since the lockdown years. We only need to look at the number of contacts that our Business Development Manager, Lyndon, has made in the last six months to see there is definitely an upturn in the attendance of these shows.

The Southern Manufacturing in February had nearly 10,000 visitors, and the more specific shows, such as The Subcon show, are equally well attended. There is definitely an appetite for people to connect and engage with each other. 

By attending shows, the decision makers are looking at what is out there. In some cases, that may be about making strategic partnerships; in others, it can be about buying new equipment or engaging with new suppliers. 


There are signs of growth

For months, various media outlets have reported that we’re heading for or skirting around the edges of a recession there in the UK, and there are people far more qualified than us to comment on that! 

However, there are also reports of growth within UK manufacturing. Make UK, who survey their members, are reporting that there are signs of growth. You can read their predictions here. Other media outlets like The Manufacturer have also picked this up.

What is interesting about these articles is the quote below… 

Richard Austin, BDO’s National Head of Manufacturing, says the burden on manufacturers still lies heavy, adding: “Despite the first half of the year seeing some pressures easing, there are longer-term systemic challenges in the UK market, with built-in inefficiencies that need to be addressed urgently in order for UK manufacturing to effectively plan and invest.

This hints at the point that we made above. 

The fact is to become more efficient and combat the inefficiencies that have plagued UK manufacturing; people need to consider a new way of doing things. Of course, for us, that means that you need to look at how you use SyteLine, for example, but it also holds true for any ERP system you may be using. 

This really is the time to look at how you can improve things. 


“What we think we become”

We’ll leave you with a bit of a zen-like thought. Some may wonder what this has to do with UK manufacturing, but stick with it… It does make sense! 

As someone who has studied neuroscience, I confirm that what we think we become is true not only in a personal sense but in business too. We are wired to get confirmation of what we believe. So if we start hearing news about being in a recession, we’ll look to make that true with whatever evidence we can find! The issue is that the more we do this, the more we must confirm it, which starts to affect our behaviour. 

We see something similar with stock markets; something happens that makes traders skittish, and then the next thing you know, stocks are falling everywhere.    

So what does this mean to you as a business owner? After all, there is more to this than just thinking positive thoughts. 

This is about remembering that you are in control of your destiny and that you make your own future. Yes, times have been tough for UK manufacturing, but the people who are thriving right now are the ones that have seen this as a challenge and looked for what they can do to improve their future. 

If you want to take the first step towards a thriving future, why not get in touch to see how we can help you?