Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Orders and Output Up as North Firms Buck Trend; in Association with RBS

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Orders and Output Up as North Firms Buck Trend; in Association with RBS

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter McCusker

BUOYANT North-East manufacturers are leading the UK in a sector which seems to be defying the gloom apparent elsewhere in the national economy.

Manufacturers' group the Engineering Employers Federation's (EEF) latest survey discovered the region's firms are reporting significant rises in output and orders - the highest in the UK.

Their performance has been described as "remarkable" by the EEF's regional manager Tony Sarginson and the second quarter of this year is the 10th consecutive quarter of growth in the North East.

Yesterday's good news was tempered, though, by a second survey by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) which said a three-year run of expansion in UK manufacturing production came to an end in May.

Mr Sarginson said: "The performance of the region's manufacturing firms is outstanding. It backs up all the anecdotal evidence I find when talking to our companies. The credit crunch is not impacting on them. It is quite remarkable."

He believes manufacturers in the oil and gas industries, the defence and transport infrastructure sectors are the most bullish.

"Manufacturers in the North East are providing a beacon of light amidst the current economic gloom and remain cautiously optimistic about their immediate prospects," he said.

"Companies are responding to the squeeze on their margins from rising costs by continuing to invest in their businesses to drive up productivity."

Trevor Harrison, managing director of umbrella organisation Northern Defence Industries, said: "Ongoing operations by UK forces are seeing many of the region's supply companies prosper. The success of the region's oil and gas companies - such as Wellstream and Duco - has been well-documented and this sector continues to perform well."

George Rafferty, chief executive of NOF Energy, which represents the region's oil and gas firms, said: "The increasing worldwide demand for oil and gas is driving the demand to discover more and more reserves in difficult environments, and this is an area where the region is a world leader. …

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