Lack of knowledge is holding back growth
A LACK of market knowledge is one of the main barriers to growth for South West manufacturers, according to a new report.
The latest Barometer from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) revealed that 44 per cent of respondents identified market knowledge as the main inhibiting factor to realising future sales growth to 2016 in a number of different sectors.
However, this is significantly lower than the national figure of 79 per cent highlighted in the third barometer from MAS to be rolled out across England.
This difference could be attributed to the fact that the South West is home to many high quality SME manufacturing businesses that are low volume, niche and frequently family owned.
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These businesses have had to be agile and innovative in good times and during tough trading conditions.
They are often looking for new markets or opportunities.
Simon Howes, MAS area director for South England, said: "We are not surprised market knowledge was identified as one of the biggest barriers to growth as this can be difficult information to obtain and analyse.
"However, it is something that is vitally important for businesses to gain an understanding of because it is key to underpinning a clear growth strategy.
"A good starting point is to define the business's strengths, review its competitors and develop a structured plan to utilise its capabilities.
"Manufacturers should also closely review pressures being applied by suppliers and customers and even consider alternative offerings and opportunities for diversifying.
"This is something MAS can help with through our network of experienced advisors."
Contributing manufacturer Climateq Ltd, which manufacturers energy saving air conditioning control products in Dorset, reported increases in sales, order books and enquiry levels within the past six months, and has new products in the pipeline.
A strategic marketing approach has played an important part in this success, it claimed.
Samantha Flavell, sales director at Climateq, said: "Our rapid growth has been largely due to our unique product offering and the significant amount of time and effort we spent, and continue to spend, researching the marketplace.
"Rather than adopting a scattergun approach to try and reach as many different sectors as possible, we have a clearly defined marketing strategy in place.
"In our experience, developing a relationship with a prospective client in one sector opens doors to several other opportunities further down the line."
The MAS Barometer provides a snapshot of trends affecting manufacturing SMEs, as well as an overview of economic conditions and issues faced by the sector.
MAS is funded by the Government to provide support for manufacturers, including those in Plymouth, to help them to improve and grow.