According to Picon’s Q1 2003 quarterly industrial trends survey of UK supplier activity, general confidence levels have dropped for the first time since Q3 2001. Export confidence, although still positive, is also showing signs of a downward trend. General business confidence is down across all sectors with the exception of the consumables sector, which shows a reasonable increase in comparison.

Says Picon chief executive John Brazier: “Suppliers are suffering from a slow market and decreasing confidence due to current political and economic factors. The situation is exacerbated because growth markets which would normally provide sales opportunities at times like these have been badly affected by the conflict in the Middle East.”

Domestic order books remain at below normal levels in more than half the participating supplier companies and although a slight improvement is anticipated for Q2, especially by converting machinery suppliers, the general view is that there will be little change in the domestic market in the short term. Overall export confidence has also declined. On the positive side, confidence in the prepress, paper and consumables sectors has seen a slight increase.

Influenced by speculation surrounding the UK Government’s euro stance, 75 per cent of respondents to the Picon euro poll have reverted to the ‘wait and see’ option (see also story ‘Strong support for Euro’).

Picon Tel: +44 (0)1483 412000

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