UK manufacturing grows at fastest rate for six years in August

The UK manufacturing sector grew at its fastest rate for over six years, as companies and their clients restarted operations following coronavirus lockdowns.

Data from research firm IHS showed that industry performance rose to a 30 month high of 55.2 in August, up from 53.3 in July. Anything above 50 indicates growth.

The figures means the sector is on course for a full recovery.

Underpinning the growth was the fastest increase in new orders since November 2017.

The domestic market remained the prime source of new contract wins, although manufacturers also mentioned improved demand from the EMEA region, North America and Australia.

Duncan Brock, director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply said: “Domestically, customers are playing their part in the recovery of the UK economy, with an upswing in new orders accelerating to the fastest rate since November 2017.

“A smidgen of good news from overseas too with a small uplift in export orders for the first time in almost a year as optimism across the board was maintained that business could only get better.

“It seems the sector may be experiencing a ‘V’ shaped recovery with the fastest rate of growth in the manufacturing sector since May 2014.

“However, amidst this positivity the elephant in the room remains the poor employment figures. The drop in job numbers in August makes this feel more of a rebalancing strategy than real recovery.

“Companies are looking at how to stay in business for the rest of the year as challenges from the pandemic retreat a little only to be replaced by an imminent Brexit.”

Despite the figures economists warned it will still take several months to fully recoup the output lost since the start of the pandemic.