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Half of NI manufacturers ‘turning to green tech’ to tackle soaring energy bills


Stephen Kelly, Manufacturing NI, Maureen Treacy Perceptive Insight and James Donnelly, Tughans

Stephen Kelly, Manufacturing NI, Maureen Treacy Perceptive Insight and James Donnelly, Tughans

Philip Magowan

Stephen Kelly, Manufacturing NI, Maureen Treacy Perceptive Insight and James Donnelly, Tughans

Half of Northern Ireland’s manufacturers are turning to green tech and energy in a bid to curb soaring power costs.

Almost all firms quizzed in a fresh industry survey say they have experienced rises in energy costs over the last 12 months.

But around two-thirds of companies here say they are in growth mode. However, the latest survey from Manufacturing NI with Tughans shows almost half are expecting a fall in profit margins over the coming year.

The survey was conducted by Perceptive Insight from April 1-22 and a total of 130 companies across Northern Ireland participated.

It also showed firms are expecting to see increasing exports to EU markets (39%), with 40% expected to expand UK sales also.

There is also a decrease in the number of companies (11%) who describe their business as reducing or contracting over the same period last year, when 17% reported downturns.

It says that “while GB suppliers’ unpreparedness and unwillingness to adopt the new Brexit regulations remain a significant barrier to trading, the top four most prevalent concerns include rising energy costs, cost of doing business, availability of raw materials and the recruitment of skilled workers”.

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Around a third of firms believe their GB suppliers remain unprepared for the new requirements.

“The survey demonstrates that despite very difficult headwinds from rapidly rising input costs and the complications of Covid and Brexit, our manufacturers again demonstrate they are positive problem solvers and increasingly picking up new business in markets at home, in the UK, EU and across the globe,” Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, says.

“It is a clear illustration of the determination of the sector to get through the turbulence despite current minimum public assistance. Manufacturers are again leading the economic fight back and with the right environment are poised to ensure we recover our status as an industrial powerhouse”.

The cost of doing business and particularly expenditure on transportation has affected more than 80% of businesses of which 25% mentioned the increased cost of doing business as the main obstacle for the recovery of their firm.

“Despite worsening trading conditions, many of our clients in the manufacturing sector are reporting strong growth in the last year,” James Donnelly, head of corporate at Tughans, says.

“The changing conditions are seeing a greater appetite to adapt through investment in plant and automation, new energy systems and sourcing raw materials.”