As the UK manufacturing sector fights back against COVID-19 – what do small and medium-sized businesses need to survive and thrive?
Over 600 senior business leaders participated in April’s Manufacturing Barometer survey of England’s SME manufacturers, and the overwhelming majority reported that COVID-19 had hit their company hard.
Conducted by SWMAS and MGP, the report showed that 84% of respondents said they desperately needed financial support to survive the COVID-19 crisis, but only 16% felt that the help on offer from government was adequate. Three months on, have their views changed?
A follow-up survey, launched today (Wed 1st July), gives SME manufacturers a chance to highlight, and call for, the help and support they still need as they face the challenges of operating in the ‘New Normal’.
Nick Golding, Managing Director at SWMAS, said “As UK lockdown measures continue to lift it’s crucial that small and medium sized businesses across the manufacturing sector are able to implement recovery strategies.
“This survey aims to uncover which of the government’s financial support schemes have been accessible and relevant to them while helping us to identify the additional help they require over the coming months.”
The last Barometer revealed that staff/HR issues and supply chain engagement were also presenting challenges. This survey will also explore the steps manufacturers have taken over the last 3 months to address these difficulties, and the areas they plan to focus on going forward.
As facilitators of government funded support programmes designed exclusively for SME manufacturers, both SWMAS and MGP understand the importance of offering relevant help that focusses on their customers immediate needs.
The quarterly Manufacturing Barometer survey offers SMEs a chance to highlight the specific requirements that will help them implement business improvements and future growth plans. These results are shared with regional government representatives to help shape future sector support based on the industry’s needs.
Nick continued “Times have been tough since the COVID-19 crisis hit the UK, but we have already seen a number of SME manufacturers make pro-active changes to try and mitigate the impact on their business’. Some are tapping into new, high demand markets, whilst others are making changes to existing product lines to suit their customers current needs.”
One example of this is Worcestershire based CDM Retail Displays who have been developing new products as a result of COVID-19. Sneeze Screens, clear acrylic screens used to protect retail and front of house staff. “We have received such a high demand for our sneeze screens of which we would not have been able to produce without the new machinery or the robust business growth strategy that’s been supported by MGP.” Commented Carl Way, Managing Director of CDM Retail Displays Ltd..
Martin Coats, MD of MGP, said “although there are some positive indications that SME manufacturing is beginning to bounce back, it’s clear that there are still tough times ahead, and many businesses across the sector still require significant support to recover from this pandemic.
“That’s why we urge all business leaders to take five minutes to complete this survey and call for the help that SME manufacturers need right now – the higher the number of companies who respond, the more influential the data will be when its presented to government. Each and every view matters so don’t miss this chance to help inform policy makers of your current challenges and how they can help you address them.”
Click the following link to take part before the survey closes on Friday 10th July: Survey link