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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

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

“There is clearly a shared optimistic view amongst most Canadian
manufacturers that the industry is in expansion mode,” said Jim
, national leader, manufacturing and distribution with Grant
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