Business growth ahead for manufacturers

Survey of plant execs reveals confidence moving forward

TORONTO, Dec. 16 /CNW/ - Canadian manufacturers see the economy picking up over the next three years and they are preparing for business expansion with plans to hire employees, invest in process improvements, facilities, technology, training and innovation, according to a survey of senior plant executives.

The 2011 Business Outlook "Innovation Advantage" survey conducted by Canadian PLANT with sponsors Grant Thornton LLP and the Italian Trade Commission, attracted 384 responses from mostly small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are optimistic about the coming year and beyond.

Respondents are concerned about economic conditions, but 64% are expecting more orders next year, 63% say sales dollars will increase, 43% are counting in higher profits and 31% say their prices will go up.

Forty-four per cent of them intend to hire over the next three years, 33% are adding new lines of business, and 33% plan to enter new geographic markets. Forty-six per cent are investing in process improvement next year, 39% in training and 37% in machinery and equipment.

This year's survey looked at competitive issues, including manufacturers' efforts to innovate and improve productivity. Eighty-six per cent of respondents consider innovation to be an important part of their game plan, but when asked to identify their competitive advantages, quality was the top choice (24%) with innovation appearing well down the list (6%).

That's not to suggest manufacturers are not innovating. Spending on research, development and commercialization of new products is growing steadily, with a rate increase of about 10% expected for 2011, but 49% are not taking advantage of the SR&ED tax credit offered by the federal government.

"There is clearly a shared optimistic view amongst most Canadian manufacturers that the industry is in expansion mode," said Jim Menzies, national leader, manufacturing and distribution with Grant Thornton LLP in Toronto. "They also realize that they need to focus on longer term strategy and risk management, however many of them have been focused primarily on ensuring that the company continues to operate in the near term, hampering their ability to truly focus on their longer term objectives."

The survey was conducted in September and October. The margin of error is +/- 4.1% 18 times out of 20.

Download a copy of the survey results and a roundtable discussion of key points at

About Canadian PLANT

Canadian PLANT is a Rogers Media business publication serving Canada's manufacturing and process industry sectors. Visit

About Grant Thornton LLP

Grant Thornton is a leading Canadian accounting and business advisory firm that provides audit, tax and advisory services to private and public organizations. Visit

About the Italian Trade Commission

The Italian Institute for Foreign Trade promotes trade, business opportunities and industrial co-operation between Italian and foreign companies. Visit

SOURCE News - Media

For further information: For further information:

For media interviews with Jim Menzies contact Sandra Cusato, national marketing manager, marketing and communications, Grant Thornton LLP at, (416) 369-7012 or (416) 786-5758 (cell).

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