Turnover in the machine tool sector fell back again in August to a total of £164m, according to the Office for National Statistics. Orders on hand rose slightly, but remain at just over half their 1995 level.
The fall was entirely due to a decline in exports, which fell 5% on July’s total. Home sales rose 0.6%, and orders on hand for the home market were up 2.9%.
The European packaging machinery market, meanwhile, is set to grow from $4.7bn (£3bn) in 1998 to $6.7bn (£4.2bn) in 2005, according to market research firm Frost & Sullivan.
Growth is expected to be driven by competition in expanding end-user industries such as food and beverages, and more stringent legislation affecting packaging waste.
Integrated machinery is expected to show the strongest growth over the next seven years. Form, fill and seal machinery will increase its share of the market from 27.7% to 30.8%, or £1.3bn over the next seven years.
Acquisitions are likely among the 4,000 companies operating in this highly fragmented market, Frost & Sullivan says. Customers are less willing to deal with a range of suppliers, while large manufacturers will buy small companies in order to expand into new niche markets.