Report suggests South West manufacturers are ‘solving productivity puzzle’

  • SWMAS, part of Exelin Group, publishes latest South West Manufacturing Barometer
  • Majority of businesses surveyed report productivity gains in last financial quarter
  • Luxury fashion brand Mulberry demonstrates how production can be boosted

A total of 58% small to medium size manufacturers in the South West have reported that business productivity increased in the final quarter of the last financial year (Jan 2016 – Mar 2017).

The latest quarterly Manufacturing Barometer for the region, which surveyed 115 companies across the South West’s SME manufacturing sector about their businesses performance, also found that 66% of respondents saw an increase in sales turnover over the preceding six months. This represents a 17% increase on the same period last year.

Simon Howes, Managing Director at Exelin

The Barometer is compiled by SWMAS in partnership with Economic Growth Solutions. SWMAS is sister company to Bridgwater based business improvement consultancy Exelin (operating under parent company Exelin Group). Commenting on the report’s key findings, Simon Howes, Managing Director at Exelin, said:

“This report shows that South West manufacturers are clearly finding workable solutions to solving the ‘productivity puzzle’.

“Creating efficiencies in the workforce, along with streamlining business operations and processes, are all significant challenges in the manufacturing sector so it is very encouraging to see so many business leaders report improvements. An increase in sales for a majority of respondents is likewise cause to celebrate.”

But Howes also commented that the Manufacturing Barometer underlined significant threats to the sector’s continuing prosperity with 64% of businesses reporting skills and expertise as the key challenge to future growth. Other notable barriers to productivity were revealed to be; supply chain cost increases since the Brexit vote; impacting the price of raw materials; and a lack of suitable industrial property.

Howes said: “While it is fantastic that so many manufacturers are expecting further increases in sales (71% of those surveyed), if additional skilled workers cannot be found, pressure to find further efficiencies will increase. Increasing supply chain costs are further adding to that pressure and uncertainties around Brexit are making matters worse. The solution is to ensure your business is performing to its utmost potential.

“As a specialist in business improvement, Exelin is working with manufacturers of all stripes to create people development and system improvement programmes that deliver tangible results. In one case we enabled our client Mulberry, the luxury fashion house, world famous for its handbags, to implement a new factory layout. This significantly reduced work in progress, improved material flows and created space for additional production line capacity.

“It is by thinking imaginatively, and questioning industry-standard approaches to production, that manufacturers in the South West are leading the way and demonstrating that productivity improvement is an achievable goal.”

To view the full findings of the Manufacturing Barometer, please visit:

To learn more about how Exelin can help deliver lasting performance improvements for your business, please visit: