Scottish manufacturers remain optimistic despite flat trading conditions in the final quarter of the year.
Industry body EEF and business advisory firm BDO’s latest manufacturing outlook survey found that output in the fourth quarter was flat compared with the previous three-months.
There was a slight uplift in orders in the period and a more significant increase in employment, but export prices fell into negative territory with a 3% drop on the previous quarter.
However, respondents were more bullish about their prospects for the first quarter of next year, with 16% reporting an expected increase in output, 19% an uplift in orders, and 12% an increase in employment.
A net 17% of Scottish manufacturers said they were also expecting to invest in their businesses in the coming quarter.
“2014 has proved to be a solid year for Scottish manufacturers, with the highs thankfully balancing out the lows,” Martin Gill, head of BDO LLP in Scotland, said.
“As we head into 2015 it’s going to be a case of ‘steady as she goes’, with firms viewing next year with a mixture of grit, determination and realism.
“There have been some notable areas of strength this year, especially among sectors relying on demand in the home market, which has been particularly strong.
“And, despite some uncertainty, the fact companies are maintaining their investment and hiring plans shows they have a positive view of their prospects ahead.”
The one continuing area of caution flagged up by the report was in the exporting arena, where geopolitical risks and the weak performance of the eurozone meant firms had a cautious outlook.
“Working against the headwinds of poor export markets, the strength and resilience of sector firms have once again shone through this year,” Mr Gill said.
“What’s exciting, yet equally frustrating, is that manufacturers would have more growth potential if the right support was in place.
“The Chancellor must do his bit in this week’s Autumn Statement to back businesses looking to invest, recruit and move into new markets.”