Small and medium-sized manufacturers’ orders and output dropped at the fastest rate for more than 20 years in the first quarter of the year.
Nearly two-thirds of the 500 businesses surveyed for the CBI quarterly trends reports reported falling orders in the three months to April, with only 13 per cent seeing an increase. Collapsing demand had a knock-on effect on output, with 57 per cent of respondents reducing production. Job losses also continue to accelerate. Half of the survey’s respondents cut staff numbers and only six per cent were hiring between January and April.
Russel Griggs, the chairman of the CBI’s SME Council, said: “It has been a torrid few months for smaller manufacturers. With orders and output falling at the fastest rate since this survey began, many firms have had no option but to let staff go. Although companies seem hopeful that the pace of decline in manufacturing activity may be moderating slightly, the next three months are still going to be very tough for many firms.”