MAS Barometer shows ‘growth’ still there for English manufacturers

Manufacturing SMEs in England are still reporting increased sales and predicting future growth despite recent reports of an industry downturn.

MAS measures success

53% of respondents to the latest Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) National Barometer have seen orders grow in the last six months with the same number (53%) anticipating a further upturn between now and the end of the year.

A third of the companies surveyed are looking to create new jobs, 55% are expecting the size of their workforce to stay the same and 71% are looking to boost their turnover through exporting in the next eighteen months.

In line with recent surveys, there does appear to be a softening in the marketplace with only 40% of respondents seeing an increase in enquiries, compared with 49% in the last Barometer.

The number of companies considering investment in new machinery and premises over the next six months is also down from 44% to 38%.

Business Minister Mark Prisk commented: "This latest MAS Barometer shows that many small manufacturing firms across the UK are growing and expect to continue to grow despite the challenging wider economic environment.

“The Government is committed to helping manufacturers make the most of the opportunities for growth and job creation through our continued investment in MAS."

David Caddle, MAS Area Director, said: “The results are still showing positive signs of growth and expansion, although there are indications among SME manufacturers in England of a more cautious outlook going forward.”

“This is not unexpected when you consider the recent economic forecasts and, historically, it takes a little longer for the slowdown to cascade its way down the supply chain and to the smaller companies.”

He continued: “However, we have to make sure we don’t talk ourselves into another downturn. The Barometer features responses from key decision makers at over 700 companies, representing more than 28,000 employees. It is carried out quarterly, giving us a smoother picture of sentiment as opposed to some monthly findings that can be swayed by external influences, such as the Jubilee.

“And the majority are saying to us they are growing and expect this to continue over the next six months.”

This is the second National Barometer conducted by MAS and provides a snapshot of trends in English manufacturing SMEs from April to June 2012, as well as an overview of economic conditions and issues faced by the sector.

Export was the specialist focus for this report and, despite turmoil within the Eurozone, 71% of firms are aspiring to increase international orders, with more than one in ten expecting to boost turnover by 50% between now and 2013.

41% believe the biggest challenge to succeeding overseas is being able to generate sales, followed by selecting an agent/distributor (17%) and fluctuations in exchange rates (13%).

In terms of manufacturing issues, securing competitive production costs was listed as the biggest worry (50%), with after sales support (19%) and meeting different international standards (14%) the other most common concerns.

David went on to add: “Exporting has been a key driver in the upsurge in manufacturing and this shows no signs of changing, even with the Eurozone in turmoil.

“Securing competitive production costs against global rivals has been a long-term issue and one MAS continues to help SMEs with through on-the-ground assistance and specialist workshops.

“We’d also encourage manufacturers to fully utilise the network of support in place to help them succeed overseas, including tapping into support from ourselves, UK Trade & Investment, Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), ADS (Aerospace Defence Security) and the world class Universities we have in England.”

SRM Industries Ltd, which employs 75 people across two sites in Derbyshire and Leicestershire, was one of the companies questioned.

The leading manufacturer of gaskets and rubber mouldings has enjoyed significant growth this year, with new contracts in the construction, airport security and defence sectors helping boost turnover by over 25% to £4.7m.

Martin Spare, Finance Director, commented:

“Our biggest breakthrough is with Metapro Tex, who are experts in sports protection equipment.

“We mould silicone rubber pads onto one of their specialist socks (called Metasox) worn by professional footballers all over the world. It sits just above the metatarsal and will prevent the user from breaking the bone, something David Beckham could have done with during his career.”

He continued: “We’ve got ten people working on this project alone and expect this number to grow as the product is marketed all over the world.”

Established in 1980, SRM has worked with MAS to implement a new software package to aid automation and is expected to increase its current export levels from 10% to 20% by 2013.

The company has taken on thirteen new staff since the turn of the year and expects to hire more people as the demand increases.
MAS, which is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), works for manufacturers and through experienced advisors can help shape strategy, create new products, reduce waste and review supply chains.

Companies can take advantage of a free review that identifies key priority areas and funding is available for improvement projects focused on increasing efficiency, developing new products, strengthening supply chains and boosting sales.


For further information, please visit or follow us at @mymas_mfg. If you would like to take part in the next MAS Barometer, please contact Please note you must be a England-based SME manufacturer to take part, we can only accept one key decision maker participant per company.

For media information, please contact Russ Cockburn on 07812 600271 or email

Notes to Editors:

The MAS National Barometer is available in a full report and available on request

Background on MAS

MAS (Manufacturing Advisory Service), which is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, provides support for manufacturing businesses based in England to help them improve and grow.

MAS is designed to help manufacturers streamline their processes, reduce waste, become more energy efficient and improve and grow their business.

Regardless of company size, its team of highly skilled advisors can help. They all have 'hands-on' experience of both shop floor working and management skills and will work with manufacturers to ensure that their business is run in the best way possible.

For SMEs in England, many of their services are free and supplemented by appropriate grant funding.

MAS has been a huge success since its launch in 2002. Working with thousands of companies it now plays a vital role in helping manufacturers in England to share knowledge, improve productivity and achieve success in an increasingly competitive global economy.

If you are an SME manufacturer based in England and would like to take part in the next quarterly MAS Barometer Survey that takes just five minutes to complete, please email stating that you wish to participate. Please note we can only accept one entry per company and the participant must be a key decision maker.

The information and findings in the Barometer may be freely re-used in any online or offline publication and presentation, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line -

"This information was taken from the Manufacturing Advisory Service National Barometer Survey Results".

The Barometer Survey was first started by SWMAS Ltd in 2009 to cover the South West of England.  It has since been extended to the whole of England. SWMAS Ltd retains sole copyright ownership and sole ownership of all rights in and to the Survey except those expressly given to MAS under current contract.

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information supplied, SWMAS Ltd, the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) and any of the contributors to these results / the report cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions that are revealed by future date revisions, new publications or policy changes, or for the consequences of actions taken by any party on the basis of the content in this report.


Manufacturing Barometer Information

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