Business confidence hits 1998 low

Business confidence hits 1998 low
Richard Wilson The heads of UK electronics firms are less confident about business prospects than at any time in the last year. This is the key finding of the latest six monthly survey of business confidence in the electronics industry, commissioned by Electronics Weekly and private equity group Schroder Ventures. The survey of 100 senior executives in electronics design, manufacturing and services firms has confirmed an erosion of business confidence in the last 12 months. However, there is still evidence of an underlying strength in the electronics sector with 56 per cent of managers questioned predicting an increase in order levels over the coming three months. Just 43 per cent of those questioned claimed to be more confident about business performance than they were three months ago. A similar survey in May 1997 showed that over 75 per cent of managers were more confident about business prospects. Despite almost half of managers still claiming to be “very confident” about future business prospects, more firms are experiencing a fall in sales, cuts in capital investment and a reduction in staff recruitment. See InsideView. Industry Comments “Your findings sound bizarre. We are currently carrying out a huge recruitment drive. There is a lot of new business in the digital television sector. It is looking very buoyant.”
Tim Fern, director of engineering for set-top box maker Pace Micro Technology “Investment is high but we have seen some reduction in staff. This is due to changes in our manufacturing processes leading to productivity economies. Our market is a little bit flat.”
Tim Fowler, marketing director of mobile communications manufacturer Simoco “It is a very sector-specific situation. Telecommunication businesses are in good shape at the moment. Smaller companies, either exporters or suppliers – especially for components – are having a very hard time as components can be purchased in the Far East much more cheaply than in the UK.”
Anthony Parish, director general of the Federation of the Electronics Industry “I would say that there is a general softness to the market but we have not seen our staffing levels drop.”
John Knowles, managing director at printing machines manufacturer DEK

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