Respondents to the latest half yearly Business Conditions Survey carried out by the British Plastics Federation are signalling an increase in business confidence in the plastics sector.
Some two-thirds of companies say they are expecting sales turnover to increase in the next twelve months, up from 55 percent in January with exports expected to stabilise, with 41 percent anticipating increased profitability, up from 36 percent.
There were 96 respondents to the survey, from across the automotive, aerospace, construction, electrical, electronic and healthcare sectors as well as providing packaging for the retail and distribution industries.
In explaining their optimism, companies cited lower raw material costs, tighter cost control, more efficiency and less waste as key drivers. The survey shows many companies are also reporting significant productivity gains in the period 2007-2013.
Some 56 percent of those responding said that their productivity (units per hours worked) has increased by over five percent since 2007. Polymer Distributors and Recyclers were particularly noticeable for large gains.
Overwhelming market pressure since 2007 was cited as the main factor affecting productivity by 51 percent of respondents, followed by changes to product mix and changes to a company’s manufacturing techniques. Bottom of the list was availability of skilled staff and the impact of regulations.
Perhaps consistent with this, there was an increase in the number of companies expecting no change in their staffing levels over the next 12 months. This stood at 51 percent up from 47 percent in the January 2013 survey.
Looking ahead to the potential economic effects of possible alternative political structures, only two percent of respondents said they wanted to see an independent Scotland and 54 percent said that Scotland should remain in the United Kingdom. 61 percent of respondents believed that the UK should remain in the EU, with 11 percent wanting to see an exit. 72 percent believed that the UK should try to secure improved terms for its EU membership.
Peter Davis, the BPF's Director General, commented: "Broadly our members want to stay in the EU but they strongly rejected the Euro replacing the pound sterling with 74 percent saying 'no'."