What’s Next? The Outlook Of The Plastics Industry

March 17, 2017

plastic moulding granules

We’ve got some cool industry insights for you this week; the British Plastics Federation recently completed their twice-annual survey of 102 plastics companies. You can read the report in full here – or you can just read on to see our quick breakdown of it for you. (We know which one we’d prefer.)

Sales And Profitability Of Plastics Companies

Numbers are up when it comes to sales predictions, which is always nice to hear – especially for us in the roto-moulding section of the market! A record number of respondents – 78% – predicted an increase in sales turnover, as opposed to only 51% last year. Meanwhile, 63% of respondents are looking forward to an increase in export sales, with only 1% thinking it won’t happen. More than one company mentioned the exchange rate as a reason for this optimism, calling it a significant “competitive advantage”.

The general feeling wasn’t quite so strong about profitability, although people are still more confident now than they were shortly after the EU referendum in June last year. Back then only 20% of companies predicted an increase in profitability, whereas now that number’s increased to 34%. Confidence is building slowly, but it’s probably understandable that there’s still some caution there.

Recruitment In The Plastics Industry

Recruitment is an interesting one. Almost exactly half the companies surveyed said they’ll keep their staffing levels the same, and only 6% said they might cut down. Meanwhile, 44% said they want to get more staff on board before the end of 2017.

There’s a slight issue there, though, as 65% of respondents said they were having problems recruiting. This first became a minor worry back in 2012, but this sort of difficulty has been the highest it’s ever been. The results weren’t specific on exactly what kind of staff companies were having problems finding, but at Excelsior we think we might have an idea. It’s no mean feat to learn the workings of our own rotomoulding process, so it’s probably safe to assume the problems are centred on finding skilled engineers for specialised jobs.

The Brexit Question

You knew it was coming – it’s the million dollar question. The exact question the survey asked was: “has your company proactively begun to explore export markets outside the EU?”

67% said no, 19% said yes, and 13% said they planned to. So it seems that at least for the time being, the plastics industry is still pretty confident of the reliability of continuing business from the EU. Of the people who said they were looking at other markets, North America and Asia were basically tied as the strongest contenders for alternative customer bases, with the general feeling being less certain about South America and Africa.

So What’s The Upshot For Plastics?

On the whole, it’s looking pretty positive for the plastics industry. Like a lot of British industries, the outcome of the EU referendum rocked it back in June – as a direct result, a lot of companies took a defensive stance. It looks like people are poking their heads cautiously above the parapet again though, which is great news for us at Excelsior. We don’t like the idea of an uncertain market either!

The Director General of the BPF, Philip Law, appears to agree with us:

“The previous survey was carried out immediately following the EU referendum vote and the picture it painted was rather pessimistic. What is certain though, is that our latest survey highlights a far more optimistic outlook. This optimism is to be welcomed, as we must all remain positive as we enter this new era, full of fresh challenges and opportunities.”

Well said, Mr Law. In light of that, at Excelsior we’re committed to bringing you fantastic quality service, from our rotational moulding to our established range of products. Give us a call on 0161 765 2010, and see what we can do for your business.

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