Manufacturing business growth has continued to rise over the past year, but at a much slower rate than the previous 12 months. Despite challenging market conditions and the difficulty in recruiting and retaining skilled staff, there has been a marginal one percent rise in the number of businesses reporting growth. These findings are survey results unveiled from the annual Global Growth Index by Epicor Software Corporation—a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth.

For the UK companies who have experienced growth, maintaining it has not been easy over the past year. Forty-four per cent admit it has been challenging, whilst 18 per cent have found it stressful. Half (50 per cent) of UK businesses cite market conditions as having a negative impact on growth, and 18 per cent feel that staff skills and experience have also played a detrimental part in maintaining growth.

Political volatility and uncertainty also continue to be a common cause for concern across the globe. Sixteen percent of UK respondents cited the China-US trade dispute as likely to have a negative impact on future business growth. Nearly three quarters of UK businesses (72 per cent) stated that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is also still a big threat.

“The manufacturing industry plays an integral role in our global economy and people forget that it is responsible for delivering important products we use every day,” Steve Murphy, Epicor CEO, said. “As such, the health of the manufacturing industry is something we should all be concerned about. While it’s good news to see that growth in this industry is still taking place, we need to keep a close eye on what factors are contributing to this growth and what factors are causing a lag. The information in the Global Growth Index empowers businesses so they can make strategic plans that will best position them for the future.”

Now in its third year, the Epicor Global Growth Index is designed to measure the state of worldwide business growth within the manufacturing industry. The Index tracks the performance of businesses—year on year—within 13 territories across a number of key indicators, including turnover, profits, headcount, and product range. Compared to last year’s results, the Growth Index rose by one percent. This is down from the 3.7 per cent in the previous 12-month period.

The table below shows the Global Growth Index results for 2019 across six key indicators, compared with figures from 2018 and 2017. Percentages represent the median average number of businesses that have reported growth in each of the key growth metrics.

“Investing in the right technology, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, can help businesses better plan for change by improving visibility and insights into current operational workflows,” Reid Paquin, research director, IDC, added. “This can help alleviate stress and enable people to deal with challenges more effectively, by providing the flexibility, agility, and adaptability needed to respond to market conditions and customer demands. Technology can also have a positive influence on other factors including work ethic and staff recruitment and retention.”