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Major Expansion of the Menu For English and Welsh Food and Drink Manufacturers

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Major Expansion of the Menu For English and Welsh Food and Drink Manufacturers

Major Expansion of the Menu For English and Welsh Food and Drink Manufacturers
September 01
10:11 2015

Food and drink manufacturing companies in England and Wales are readying plans to create thousands of new jobs over the next five years, as they look to drive growth at home and abroad, according to a new study by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. The report, ‘Investing for Growth’, found confidence strong across Britain’s biggest manufacturing sector, with firms planning to develop innovative new products and increase export activity.

The second annual study, which surveyed English and Welsh producers of alcohol, fresh produce and food and drink products, examines the opportunities for, and challenges faced by, the industry over the short to medium-term.

The forecast for job creation in this year’s report is strong, with firms planning to create more than 73,000 new jobs over the next five years. Against this backdrop, just over a third (34 per cent) plan to drive business growth through job creation. However, with the sector facing the retirement of hundreds of thousands of workers by 2020, over a quarter of survey respondents (28 per cent) cited a lack of skilled labour as one of the biggest challenges facing the food and drink industry today.

Optimism in the sector is universal, with 100 per cent of firms expecting to grow over the next five years, up from 98 per cent from last year. More than four in five firms (82 per cent) forecast up to 25 per cent growth over the next five years. Mergers and acquisitions are highlighted as key growth driver by the largest operators (those above £750 million annual turnover).

The majority of firms are focused on both entering new markets in the UK (56 per cent) and developing new products (55 per cent), as a way of achieving their growth ambitions.

The cautious approach to spending and investment adopted by many companies post-recession is evident in this research. The majority of respondents (53 per cent) will fund growth using cash reserves, followed closely by cash flow finance at 45 per cent.

The majority of producers (72 per cent) plan to enter new international markets in the next five years, up from 63 per cent in 2014 While Western Europe remains the most popular export market (60 per cent), the number of businesses targeting this territory is 16 per cent down on last year.

Second most popular target market is North America (49 per cent), followed by the Far East and Asia (43 per cent), which is also down on last year (54 per cent of businesses were planning to target this market in 2014). Indeed, 88 per cent of firms believe English/Welsh produce has a good reputation overseas.
LloydsBankLogoFirms plan to invest on average a quarter (25 per cent) of current turnover into R&D over the next five years. Half of firms (50 per cent) plan to form partnerships with other organisations in their supply chain to develop new products, streamline manufacturing processes and boost productivity

Innovation is a vital spur for long term growth within the industry. Indeed, more than half of producers (55 per cent) plan to develop new products as part of their strategy for growth.

Andrew Connors, head of mid-sized business at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, comments: “The contrast between the 2014 report and our latest research is really positive, with significant job creation and investment figures revealed. Productivity presents an ongoing challenge for the UK economy. Against this backdrop, the continued commitment from food and drink manufacturers to drive productivity and innovation through R&D is a clear indication of the crucial role this sector plays in the broader economy.”

He adds: “Lloyds Bank supports producers, from start-ups to multinational brands, and will continue to help industry operators achieve their ambitions with bespoke finance and specialist knowledge. Food and drink is without doubt a sector that will help Britain prosper.”

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