Confidence returns to factories

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The Independent Online

Expectations of growth in the manufacturing sector in England are at a 12-month high, according to the Manufacturing Advisory Service.

Its quarterly barometer found 93 per cent of manufacturers surveyed plan to hire or retain their workforce, and nearly two thirds are expecting to increase sales over the next six months. The government-funded service surveyed 700 small and medium manufacturers.

Michael Fallon, the Business minister, said: "Confidence is on the rise, particularly amongst SMEs, indicating that manufacturers are becoming more optimistic about their future growth plans."

Lorraine Holmes, an area director for MAS, said: "There appears to be a greater appetite from SMEs for investment in order to remain competitive."