Survey finds 70 percent of region's manufacturers worried about stock availability

By Barrie Hudson - 5 January 2022

Business
  • Business West Managing Director Phil Smith said manufacturers' concerns were troubling

    Business West Managing Director Phil Smith said manufacturers' concerns were troubling

Manufacturing businesses are worried about stock availability into the New Year according to a Business West poll.

The organisation's latest quarterly economic survey has found that 70 percent of manufacturing businesses across the South West are concerned that disruption to supply chains will continue into 2022.  

Almost 350 businesses took part in the recent survey of business conditions in the South West, with the findings showing overwhelming concern amongst the business community about input and stock availability.

The results come as several reports have emerged that UK economic growth is slowing due to global scarcity of materials, staff shortages exacerbated by Brexit, and transport delays occurring simultaneously due to an increase in demand. 

Business West Managing Director Phil Smith said: “The survey results from the fourth quarter of the year have shown that despite businesses’ economic recovery and progress following the challenges of the past two years, hurdles still remain for the business community.

“It is troubling to see the difficulties businesses in the manufacturing sector are facing, particularly during what should be a profitable time for firms. The challenges caused by disrupted supply chains must be addressed to keep businesses on an upward trajectory after a promising start this time last year.”

The survey found that 77 percent of manufacturers suffered delays or other disruptions when importing supplies or goods, while 66 percent of all importing businesses had been affected. 

Common issues faced included delays of up to 12 weeks or more for deliveries from Europe and Asia, shortages of materials such as steel and wood, exponential price increases of shipping containers and UK based companies being dropped by EU suppliers. 

Marlborough-based BK Grain Handling Engineers is among the firms affected by shortages of materials due to import and export delays. 

Director Stuart Dennis said: “We have struggled with steel, cement and wood shortages all year. Inflation makes it hard to quote for work, and we continually have to increase prices during planning and evaluation processes.”

A third of manufacturers said that the supply chain disruptions affecting their business activity had deteriorated since the summer, while 39 percent said issues persisted but had not been aggravated.

Despite the uncertainties and difficulties linked to covid and Brexit, 2021 was a year of recovery for the domestic market, with 38 percent of respondents increasing domestic sales during the past three months, closing the year with an uptick trend in net UK sales and orders.

While businesses are clearly facing a myriad of hurdles both in the short and long-term, 35 percent of survey participants were confident about the prospects of the UK economy for the next 12 months. In addition, 62 percent of respondents were confident about their own business performance for the next year.

Information about support offered by Business West can be found at https://www.businesswest.co.uk/ and on 01725 370712.

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