Canadian manufacturers positive about global economic outlook

by Canadian Shipper

TORONTO, ON–Almost half of Canadian manufacturers are more optimistic than their international counterparts about the global economy in the next two years but also believe the sector has some obstacles to overcome to remain competitive, according to a KPMG survey.

Canadian Manufacturing Outlook 2013 – Driving Growth Through Innovation: Solving the “Canadian Dilemma” reveals 46 percent of respondents anticipate the global economy will experience low growth (between 0.1 percent and 1.9 percent) compared to 20 percent for their international counterparts. Sales growth also remains the overwhelming priority for 74 percent of Canadian manufacturers, who are smaller- to medium-sized niche market businesses, while reducing the cost structure comes in second at 56 percent.

Overall, Canadian manufacturers are focused on controlling costs and maintaining competitiveness which means they are actively reviewing all aspects of their cost structures including supply chains, distribution, profitability by market, products and clients.

Canadian manufacturers also face two big challenges in the next 12 to 24 months according to survey respondents: increased competition and pricing pressures (60 percent) and ensuring the business model remains competitive (36 percent). Less diversified sources of financing make it more difficult for national manufacturers to fund growth but they also need to invest in innovation to remain competitive.

Seventy-nine percent of respondents are focusing on enhancing existing product lines and services, as opposed to investing in breakthrough technology (15 percent). Manufacturers are spending on smaller innovations or tweaking products and processes that do not require large spending investments.

“The tough economic climate during the past four years forced many manufacturers, including the smaller, niche players in Canada, to reassess their plans, focus on the bottom line and control costs,” said Laurent Giguère, National Industry Leader, Industrial Markets, KPMG in Canada. “Shifting to a long-term and innovative focus will ensure the Canadian manufacturing sector remains competitive and productive and a vital part of the national economy.”

Other important survey findings include:

• Canadian companies recognize increasing opportunities outside of the United States and Canada: 31 percent expect to increase sourcing from China and 12 percent from India.

• Fifty-three percent of Canadian respondents reduce labour force/costs and 40 percent exit unprofitable product lines in order to control costs.

• Canadian manufacturing is seeing a shortage of skilled workers in the trades which is becoming an issue within the industry. There is a lack of skilled talent to manage the supply chain.

• Risk management ranks low on the list for Canadian companies, yet if they are to increase their operations, they must develop strategies and plans to address supply chain interruptions or quality issues.

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