Peter Davis Director-General of the BPF said “The Plastics Industry is optimistic about 2012, but confidence is a little reduced compared to previous surveys. This is hardly surprising given the continuing Eurozone turmoil and poor consumer demand.”
56% of respondents are forecasting an increase in UK sales turnover compared to 66% in our June 2011 survey. This mirrors the uncertain outlook for consumer spending retail sales, jobs and continuing sluggishness in construction markets.
Of those predicting an increase: 12% expected a turnover increase by 2 – 5%, 22% forecast an increase of 6 – 10%, 13% are anticipating rises of between 11 -20% and 9% expect rises of over 21%.
31% expected no growth and 5.5% a decrease. The most positive sectors were: Moulders; Polymer Distributors and Compounders and Recyclers who reported expanding markets; new business; recovery in the Automotive sector.
52% of respondents expected Export Sales to remain the same in 2012 compared to 39% in our survey a year ago. With Western Europe the top Export Market for responding companies, the Eurozone turmoil has undoubtedly affected confidence alongside a slowdown in Asian markets such as China and Vietnam. 38% expected Export Sales to increase in 2012 and 7% predicted a decrease.
39% of respondents expected an increase in 2012 profitability which is up on 29% in the June survey. Companies spoke of increased volume and efficiencies, a restoration of profit margins; improved cost management and ,increased productivity.
Peter Davis said “The UK plastics industry has taken decisive steps to introduce energy efficiency measures and rationalise production.”
38% expected profitability to be unchanged and 14% predicted a decrease citing margin erosion; increased competition and increases in raw material costs.
45% of respondents expected no change in their staffing levels for 2012. 39% were planning to increase staff. This is a little up on our June 2011 survey.
Of those planning to increase staff: 15% will increase staff by 2 – 5%, 16% are to grow by 6 – 10%, 7% are anticipating an augmentation of staff of between 11 – 20% and just 1% will increase staff by 21% plus. In contrast 12% were planning to reduce staff.
We asked respondents about average pay settlements for 2012. 35% are planning to give no increase, 20% increases of between 1 – 2% and 35% rises of between 2.5 – 3%.
On companies' abilities to attract in much needed skills 27% were not recruiting. Whilst 50% were having no difficulty recruiting some 23% were experiencing problems.Of these latter companies 70% found Technical Managers hard to recruit. Also difficult to get but much less so were: 'Other management', shop floor staff, apprentices and sales force personnel.
Peter Davis said “as current Technical Managers approach retirement we face a real difficulty in replacing them. This could compromise the potential for innovation.”
48% of all companies used Agency Workers.
Levels of investment was a key question.56% had capital investment plans for this year, down on the survey a year ago when 64% did. The most positive companies planning investments were: Moulders, Pipe manufacturers, Packaging, Composites and Recycling companies.
44% were not planning any 2012 capital investments.
Companies were asked to rank significant factors putting UK Plastics at a competitive disadvantage
A high 84% said Energy Supply and Cost was the most significant factor holding them back. This is substantially up on the 60% rating this had in our survey a year ago.
Peter Davis said “this reflects concern at escalating energy costs and growing fears that UK energy supply may not equal demand in a few years time.”
Other significant factors identified by respondents were, in order of priority: Environmental Taxes and Regulations; Employment Law; Carbon Reduction Taxes and Regulations and Support for Business Investment.
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Notes for editors:
The British Plastics Federation (BPF) is the UK trade association for the plastics industry – representing the whole supply chain including polymer producers, distributors, additives suppliers, machinery manufacturers, processors and recyclers.