01 February 2014
INCREASING evidence of a recovery within the steel profiling industry is giving manufacturers in the West Midlands more reason to look forward to a prosperous 2014.
Figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) suggest growth within the sector is continuing to strengthen with output towards the end of last year reaching an 18-year high.
Managing director Diane Kimberley is optimistic that fresh momentum here at Arford Steel Profiles will be both sustained and further reflected by the area as a whole.
She said: "Things were definitely picking up again towards the end of last year and that trend has continued at the start of the new year.
"There have certainly been encouraging signs of a revival in the steel profiling industry and while I wouldn't say things are back on an even keel just yet, it looks as though they are getting there. Let's hope it continues.
"If businesses like ours are starting to feel the benefits of a recovery, then I'm sure it will be felt in the rest of the region too.
"The West Midlands, and the Black Country in particular, has always been a barometer of economic prosperity within the UK so if trade in our area is strong, then the industry as a whole is usually strong."
The CBI's Industrial Trends Survey questioned nearly 400 manufacturers and found that both total order books and the pace of output growth over three months to December were the highest recorded since 1995.
Ms Kimberley, who invested £300,000 in a new plasma cutting machine at Arford before Christmas, added: "There seems to have been a change in the attitude of businesses who are now looking to the future with fresh optimism.
"Nobody is thinking the corner has been fully turned, but we have put things in place for the future by making a big investment and others seem to be similarly progressive.
"The investment in a new plasma machine will hopefully stand us in good stead as it puts another very strong arrow in our bow.
"But I'm always aware, presumably like many other business owners, that there is plenty of competition and that loyalty is never a guarantee.
"We're now working towards more effective scheduling to make sure everyone of our customers gets their orders on time.
"The next step will be to double our plasma capacity, but that will be purely down to the amount of business that comes in. It will be driven my demand."
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