Manufacturing growth slipped dramatically during the first quarter of this year, according to the latest quarterly survey from the British Chambers of Commerce.
The report – covering 8,862 UK firms employing almost one million staff – showed that among firms employing 500 or more, the gap between manufacturers expecting to export more and those expecting to export less fell from +44% in the last quarter of 1999 to +14% during the first quarter of 2000.
The slowdown in growth was particularly marked in the manufacturing heartlands of the north of England and the Midlands.
BCC deputy director-general Ian Peters said: `We are very concerned by the findings. They show there is a real slowdown in growth for manufacturers both in the domestic and export markets.’
Investment in plant and machinery fell, but more companies intend to invest more in training than at any other time in the past two years, the survey found.
Manufacturing employment increases among smaller firms were offset by redundancies among large and medium-sized companies.
Total export sales for all companies have dipped from a balance of +15% in the lastquarter of 1999 to +8% in the first quarter of 2000.
The figure for orders fell from +37% to +17%, while domestic manufacturing sales growth was down from +19% to +15%.