High-tech manufacturers positive about 2011 prospects

A new survey of high-tech manufacturers highlights a UK business sector that is forging ahead and strongly confident about prospects in 2011.

However, the 400 senior executives polled for the first GE High Tech Manufacturing Index also expressed concerns on other issues such as access to capital and raw materials.

Three-quarters of high-tech manufacturers questioned were upbeat about the current performance of their business and 71 per cent of those questioned said they expected the performance of their own business to be a little better (44 per cent) or a lot better (27 per cent) over the next 12 months.

The executives questioned were much more upbeat about prospects for their own business and the high-tech manufacturing sector in general in 2011 than the overall UK economy. Just 38 per cent of those questioned felt the general economic situation would improve.

More than a quarter of firms said they had achieved double-digit growth in 2010, and almost half of those questioned (48 per cent) are expecting to increase their headcount in 2011 with an increased average in personnel of 5.7 per cent.

Over 80 per cent export to some degree with a predicted increase in international orders of 12.3 per cent in 2011, while half predicted an uplift in domestic orders with an average increase of 5.8 per cent.

However, respondents also expressed concern on other issues. More than a third of those ’in the market’ for capital describe funds as being ’impossible to obtain on acceptable terms’ and high operating costs and raw material costs were also cited as a significant barrier to growth.

The data comes from a wider study of UK high-tech manufacturers commissioned by GE in December 2010. The full results will be released later in January.