Rod Spiby Partner at Bulleys Chartered Surveyors reports that 2014 saw a significant improvement in the economic outlook, probably experienced strongest regionally for business in an increased order book for the manufacturing sector. Increasing cost and time taken moving products around the world, a stronger pound and often better quality products made in the UK, all contributed to manufacturing, rather than storage and distribution this time, leading the way out of recession. The region has a strong skilled workforce to capitalise on this upturn, but with little availability and an aging stock of buildings, much of which considered unsuitable for current business and no new build taking place during the recession, the region has seen the return of “built-to-suit” solutions and even an appetite from developers to once again consider speculative new build – watch this space! Such is demand now for new facilities. The largest vote of confidence for the area was the £500 million Jaguar Landrover new Engine Manufacturing Plant recently opened by the Queen at the i54 South Staffordshire Business Park J2 M54 – significant for the whole of the UK not just the region. There has also been significant investment from Moog Aerospace, Eurofins Laboratories and International Security Printers on site and Bulleys are able to report a good level of interest in the remaining 23.27 acres for advanced manufacturing uses and 3.21 acres for mixed use onsite amenities.
Elsewhere many companies who until recently may have settled for older cheaper premises, or squeezed more product into their existing facility, are now able financially to seriously consider relocation to allow the business to grow. Such manufacturing companies do not have the luxury of moving frequently and easily like a distribution warehouse due to the cost of installing production machinery, which will often be significantly more than the cost of the building to house it. The lack of existing “quality” buildings and the opportunity to secure a bespoke building to exactly match their operational requirements has resulted in a significant increase in discussions with developers to procure this turnkey “built to suit” solution. Although also limited, there are a number of sites in the region able to accommodate such new buildings, some able to provide occupation as early as 9-12 months from agreeing terms and it will not be long before steelwork is seen being constructed across the region once again.