Wheels of industry turning for Hampshire and Dorset’s manufacturing sector

Hampshire and Dorset’s manufacturers are picking up speed and looking to wheel themselves into new markets overseas.

That was the message from a business event yesterday which brought together some of the most senior figures from Hampshire and Dorset’s manufacturing sector.

A select group of top managing and finance directors, from companies such as Portsmouth’s Penta Precision Engineering, Southampton’s Blade Dynamics and Romsey-based LSC Facades, came together at Hotel TeraVina in The New Forest for Grant Thornton’s manufacturing roundtable event.

The meeting, chaired by Grant Thornton’s business and finance experts and representatives from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), brought manufacturing leaders together to discuss the state of play of the industry. The outlook from the event reflected research from Grant Thornton and ICAEW’s latest Busincess Confidence Monitor, which shows confidence in the manufacturing sector has increased significantly in the second quarter of this year.

Nigel Harper, Managing Director of Euroraxx, was one of the delegates at the event and brought along some of his company’s products for delegates to see. His business, based in Totton, supplies storage racks and car racks to the likes of Raleigh, Wiggle and Halfords. More recently they have been chosen by the Commonweath Games to supply racks for the transportation of protein bikes during the games. In the last year the business has won £100k of match funding from Solent LEP and is now starting to trade in Europe.

He said: “Certainly what we’re seeing on the ground reflects the national research and we’re confident about the next 12 months ahead. A lot was said about access to finance for manufacturers a year or two ago but the opportunities are there, it’s just a case of knowing where to look for them. Funds from Solent LEP and other government initiatives have helped us to expand in the UK and it’s thanks to that that we’re now making moves to enter the wider European market.”

Delegates at yesterday’s event also discussed some of the biggest challenges they see for the future. Top of the list was financing growth for their businesses, including investment in premises, equipment and the battle for quality people ot increase staff numbers as the companies continue to gear up for growth.

Amanda James, manufacturing specialist at Grant Thornton in Southampton, said: “One of the key challenges manufacturers are facing as they look to invest in growth in the future is getting the right people to strengthen their teams and grow. Attracting young people into the manufacturing industry continues to be challenging, with the perception of the sector remaining one of dirty factories and ‘old style’ manufacturing. This is a far cry from today’s modern manufacturing facilities and, with STEM subjects and apprenticeships being much more in the limelight in recent years, steps are being taken to address this misconception and plug the gap.”