LONDON (Reuters) – Nearly half of smaller British manufacturers expect to recover to their pre-pandemic health in the coming months, with investment and hiring plans on the rise, a survey showed on Monday.
Business support groups South West Manufacturing Advisory Service (SWMAS) and Manufacturing Growth Programme said 48% of small and medium-sized manufacturers expected to meet or surpass their pre-COVID position in the next three months.
The survey adds to other signs that a wave of optimism has swept British companies as the economy gradually reopens following a third national coronavirus lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson allowed non-essential shops to reopen and outdoor hospitality to resume in April in England and there have been signs that the economy accelerated in response.
Further relaxations are due to take place this week before almost all remaining restrictions are lifted in late June, assuming the number of new COVID cases remains low.
“SME manufacturers are definitely feeling confident about the future, but there will still be a lot of challenges to overcome, not least the availability and lead times of material,” said Martin Coats, managing director of MGP.
Some 58% of the companies surveyed said they planned to raise investment over the next six months, while 54% intend to recruit more staff, the survey showed.
The survey of just under 300 companies was conducted between April 12 and April 23.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)