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Sector “optimistic” according to BPF survey

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The latest Business Conditions Survey from by the British Plastics Federation (BPF) has shown that the plastics industry is “optimistic” about the next 12 months.

The biannual survey showed that 78% of respondents were predicting an increase in sales turnover over the next year, while only 7% predicted a decrease.

However, a record 65% of companies stated they were having difficulties recruiting and 44% of respondents said they were looking to increase staffing levels through 2017.

63% of respondents predicted an increase in export sales, an increase of 35% on the previous year’s figure.

Those predicting an increase in profitability rose 14% since the previous survey, which was carried out immediately following the EU referendum vote, from 20% to 34%.

With regard to investment intentions, 31% of respondents stated that they plan to invest “significantly”, while 56% intend to invest “a little”.

BPF director general, Philip Law, commented, “We have been asking companies if they have been experiencing difficulty recruiting since 2012. The number has always been worryingly high and has averaged around 40% for the past four years. At 65%, this is the highest we have seen by quite some margin.”

Philip continued, “The previous survey was carried out immediately following the EU referendum vote and the picture it painted was rather pessimistic. It could be argued that it showed a knee-jerk reaction as people reeled from the uncertain ramifications of Brexit.

“What is certain though, is that our latest survey highlights a far more optimistic outlook, despite the industry being little wiser regarding the impact leaving the EU will have. This optimism is to be welcomed, as we must all remain positive as we enter this new era, full of fresh challenges and opportunities.”

The survey was conducted in January and February 2017 and was completed by 102 companies.