Flexible approach by city's manufacturers
PLYMOUTH'S manufacturers are responding to cutbacks in defence work by being more flexible and particularly targeting civil aviation, according to the organisation representing them.
Phil Brownsord, the new South West region director for manufacturers' organisation EEF, has highlighted reviews of defence spending as having an impact on city factories.
But he said leading manufacturers are already looking for work elsewhere and targeting the "buoyant civil aviation market".
He said: "The impact of the spending reviews in defence will continue to impact the Plymouth area due to the large number of businesses based around this sector.
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"However, these businesses continue to be flexible and look beyond the MoD, defence and the UK for their orders with many working on export contracts beyond the EU.
"Balancing the impact from defence is the buoyant civil aviation market, with the two biggest players having both recently developed new platforms.
"This is forecast to continue to grow in 2012 at 4.4 per cent. The long development period highlights the importance of the work we do to create the conditions that keep the UK at the forefront of countries to invest in due to the long-term securement of skills and employment in the region."
EEF's membership contains many of Plymouth's leading manufacturers such as Pipex, the Barden Corporation, Fine Tubes, Goodrich, Plessey Semiconductors, Underhill Engineering and Babcock.
Mr Brownsord was speaking after a week in which the Bank of England forecast zero growth for this year as the UK's double-dip recession deepens and the eurozone crisis continues.
Revising down from 0.8 per cent predicted three months ago, the Bank also said the economy would reach only about 2.1 per cent in two years, again lower than the previous prediction of 2.6 per cent.
This was followed by news that the UK's exports fell sharply in the second quarter and the country recorded its biggest trade deficit for 15 years.
But Mr Brownsord said: "Whilst it's clear the eurozone crisis is still hitting demand, with sales at near two-year low, exports to non-EU markets are holding up year on year.
"This is more in line with the feedback we're getting from manufacturers to date.
"June's disappointing trade figures could be predicted given the one-off events around the jubilee and so on.
"Given the overall economic picture and the Bank of England's flat growth forecast for 2012 it is clear however that confidence is fragile and the members we have spoken in the South West have predicted a reduction in orders and for their output to remain flat.
"As such they have little intention to invest for the remainder of 2012.
"This has a knock-on effect on those manufacturers of mechanical equipment that are reliant on this investment."