Manufacturers’ confidence has eased back from the “bullish” days at the beginning of 2014, according to a major survey of employers.
Firms have taken a dose of realism as those expecting UK economic conditions to improve have almost halved from 70% to 37% in the annual EEF/Aldermore Executive Survey.
The number expecting conditions to deteriorate has tripled, rising from 5% to 17%.
Global economic conditions also posed a concern for manufacturers as 38% expect them to worsen in 2015, compared to just 5% at the beginning of 2014.
Despite the pessimistic headlines, 70% of manufacturers say the UK will be a competitive location for them in 2015.
Some 68% expect to improve productivity throughout the year while 58% expect to boost UK sales.
On exports, just under half of manufacturers said they expect an increase in 2015 as geo-political uncertainty in Europe and the Middle East labelled these areas “not spots”.
Liz Mayes, North East region director at EEF, said: “Manufacturers’ confidence at the beginning of last year was very high – one year on and, while still positive, it has very evidently eased back.
“The realities of 2014 have taken the edge off future forecasts and what we are now seeing as we head into 2015 is a far more muted outlook, tempered by a backdrop of difficulties in the EU and wider geo-political concerns.
“The sector is still making good strides, but confidence can be fragile and with an election on the way it is vital that uncertainty and disruption are kept to a minimum.
“Recovery is by no means guaranteed and we would urge party leaders – and the next Government of whatever shade – to remain focussed on delivering a fully balanced, stable economy where manufacturing is enabled to expand and grow.”
Leyton Jeffs, North East regional sales director at Aldermore, added: “Although confidence has fallen back, it is great to see that the manufacturing industry is predicted to continue to grow in a way that fuels the UK economy during 2015.”