Cast Metals Federation reports positive attitude to post-pandemic era
22 Mar 2021
The UK cast metals sector’s trade body has reported a growing mood of optimism among members for the industry’s prospects this year.
CEO of the Cast Metals Federation (CMF) Dr Pam Murrell was speaking after the release of the organisation’s Business Impact Survey – 2020 Summary Report.
“Our sector has faced an enormous challenge during the past year and CMF members have responded as they always do, with remarkable resilience,” commented Murrell.
“The wheels of industry continue to turn and CMF members have an important role to play in contributing to the UK’s GDP and they haven’t disappointed. Our sector has dug deep and found solutions during the harshest of conditions and we can be particularly proud of that.”
While the dual pressures of Brexit uncertainty and coronavirus lockdown have dented the sector performance in the previous year, federation members approached 2020 on the back of a strong performance in 2019.
That year was ‘significantly better’ than recent precending years for the UK foundry sector, which had been braced for a decline in order books during the early part of 2020, because of concerns about the outcome of ongoing Brexit trade deal negotiations.
After the start of lockdown in March last year, rapid change in volumes for the automotive and aerospace sectors saw order books reduce, especially in the diecasting and investment casting sectors. Autumn business levels improved before the effects of the second lockdown.
Government schemes including CBIL loans for additional finance, deferred VAT payments and the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) had been useful, said the CMF, with the average percentage of employees on furlough standing at 30 per cent mid-year.
This allowed companies to maintain production levels as required, especially in the fourth quarter of the year when orders increased. Redundancies remained low compared to other sectors.
Furthermore, businesses deemed to be in an ‘essential’ supply chain – equivalent to 40 per cent of foundries and 15 per cent of foundry suppliers – remained busy and no member reported the need to close or scale-down operations in the longer term..
Members also reported that on average they envisaged they would return to 2019 capacity levels within ten to twelve months.
Stated Murrell: “Their optimism and robust handling of what has been a challenging year for all industries and society is a reflection of their competence and abilities.”