Almost 8,000 jobs have been lost in the UK manufacturing industry already this year, according to latest statistics.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said its research revealed the fragile state of the sector, highlighted by the 2,300 redundancies at Peugeot in Coventry.
Manufacturing exports and sales fell during the last quarter of 2006, mainly due to increasing global competition, while interest rates rose to 5.25%.
David Frost, director-general of BCC, said: “This year is looking ominous for the manufacturing sector. There has been a relentless decline in the number of jobs that it provides in the UK economy, and this shows no sign of abating.
“Manufacturers are operating in a fragile environment. As well as operating within a complex and burdensome regulatory regime, UK businesses must now compete with rising interest rates, stronger sterling, and low-cost imports.”
Steven Evans, managing director of PC component manufacturer Brainboxes, said the impact of the recent interest rate rise was twofold.
“Where we’ve agreed cost prices in US dollars, the value of this charge is steadily decreasing, putting increasing pressure on our margins,” he said. “If we try to win large volume business against competitors, it very difficult as our price is so much higher than theirs.
“For our customers who buy on a sterling rate, they too are finding it very difficult to compete.”
The 8,000 job losses were:
- Peugeot in Coventry: 2,300
- Shorts in Belfast: 654
- NCR cash machine manufacturer in Dundee: 650
- Bird’s Eye in Hull: 490
- TMD Friction in Cleckheaton: 270
- Premier Foods in Kings Lynn, and Ashford: 450
- Simclar Group in Irvine: 420
- GKN Sheepbridge Stokes in Chesterfield: 420
- Technicolor in Cwmbran: 310
- Widney Cabs in Birmingham: 300
- Burberry in Rhondda: 300
- ARC glass in Sunderland: 240
- COSi in Littlehampton: 240
- Young’s Seafood in Hull: 200
- Grampian Country Food Group in Aberdeen: 111
- Cincinnati in Birmingham: 90
- British Polythene Industries in Scunthorpe: 39
- Dumfries Rubber Manufacturing Company in Dumfries: 18
- Cookson Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham: 64
Cookson Jewellery Quarter in Wrexham: 16
- DS Smith in Dundee: 16
The trend looks set to continue as Tate and Lyle announced 200 redundancies at its Selby factory in Yorkshire on 1 February.