More than half (52%) of the 270 SMEs questioned in the National Manufacturing Barometer said they have increased productivity over the last six months, with nearly seven in 10 expecting another performance boost between now and the end of the year.

It also revealed renewed optimism amongst firms, with 61% recording an increase in turnover – 4% up on the previous quarter and 13% up on the same period last year.

The number of manufacturers that have recruited (44%) also rose by 7%, but investment in machinery and new technology has remained the same.

The survey was conducted by SWMAS Group (part of the Exelin Group) in partnership with Economic Growth Solutions (EGS).

Says Simon Howes, managing director of Exelin Group: “Productivity never seems to be out of the media spotlight at the moment so it is pleasing to see that SMEs are showing signs of bridging the gap. 52% of respondents tell us they have either achieved an increase or significant increase over the last six months and this may be contributing to the upbeat sales and recruitment figures we are also seeing.”

He continues: “The National Manufacturing Barometer is painting a positive picture yet again, defying early rumours of a slowdown in UK manufacturing. Don’t get me wrong, there are challenges on the horizon and we still need to fully see how the Brexit negotiations are going to play out.

“However, what manufacturers are telling us is that they are not sitting back and seeing what might happen, they’re out there fighting to win new work, creating new jobs and finding answers to the productivity puzzle.”

The Manufacturing Barometer is the largest survey conducted of SME manufacturers in the UK and asks senior decision makers for their views on business performance, future trends and government policy.