According to the Picon Q4 2002 quarterly industrial trends survey, UK suppliers have approached 2003 in a positive mood despite continuing economic and political difficulties. “Business optimism now stands at its highest level since the third quarter of 1999,” the survey summarizes.

Picon chief executive John Brazier notes: “Experience has shown that peaks and troughs get ironed out over a 12-month period. When you look at optimism levels over a longer period, it is the underlying trend that is important and at present it appears to be moving in a positive direction.”

Domestic and export orders showed an increase in the last quarter of 2002, with the forecast for domestic orders taken in Q1 2003 remaining stable at this higher level. Export order forecasts are slightly less positive for Q1, due in part to worsening economics and the current uncertainty in the Gulf.

Despite this slight improvement in orders, profits remained flat in the last quarter of 2002. But survey participants anticipate an improvement in profit levels in the first quarter of 2003. Capital expenditure levels are slightly improved and respondents indicate that, with few exceptions, investment is being made in pursuit of increased efficiency. Recruitment expenditure remains depressed, although employment levels are forecast to stabilize by the second quarter.

Results of the euro poll which has been running for seven quarters once again had the highest proportion of respondents choosing the ‘wait and see’ option.

Picon has been awarded up to £120,000 by Trade Partners UK in support of exhibitors attending LabelExpo in Brussels. The Support for Exhibitions and Seminars Abroad funding will be available to both Picon members and non members. Eligible companies attending LabelExpo in September as part of the Picon overseas group will receive a refund of 60 per cent on the costs of space and construction up to a maximum of £2,300.

More information from Helen Heaphy – TEL: +44 (0)1483 412 000.