R&D at bottom of manufacturers' list

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The Independent Online
RESEARCH and development comes last on British manufacturers' list of investment priorities, a Mori survey has found. The market researcher says spending on R&D lagged well behind sales and marketing, for example. Only one-third of the companies surveyed considered product R&D to be an important issue at all.

Information technology came top of the list of investment plans. More than four-fifths of the senior managers questioned said IT would form their main category of investment spending during the next five years, and two-thirds of those expected to spend more than pounds 1m.

The survey found that almost all the companies were already computerised and were considering their second wave of investment. The top three categories of planned IT investment were manufacturing management systems, supply chain systems and integrated systems.

These priorities reflected the managers' concern with issues such as time-to-market and just-in-time production, which put a premium on streamlining the manufacturing process. The bigger companies, with turnover of more than pounds 150m, were more likely to think this important.

The respondents said the most important criteria for success in world markets were product quality and price competitiveness.

Mori found that 84 per cent of the companies in the survey were optimistic about their ability to compete. But more than half thought that British manufacturing industry in general was not up to the challenge.