Positive economic forecast revealed at 2015 BITA AGM


BITA President David Rowell shares highlights from the recent BITA AGM, including a positive economic forecast.


When BITA’s board and members gathered in Stratford-upon-Avon on Friday 8th May, for our 30th Annual General Meeting, I’m pleased to report that the already positive atmosphere was confirmed by the unveiling of the 2015 Forklift Truck Market Outlook.

This is supplied exclusively to BITA members and produced by Oxford Economics, a leading global company providing independent analysis for decision makers seeking external opinions and evidence-based research.

UK economic performance

The Outlook was presented by Jeremy Leonard, Oxford Economics’ Head of Industry Services, and the forecasts contained good news for BITA members, with the UK economy’s performance exceeding expectations since the last report, despite some weak Q1 data. As a result, the forecast for UK GDP growth has been revised slightly upward from the last report to 2.8% compared to the 2.7% previously forecast, which makes it the highest forecast growth of all the G7 countries, including the US.

“We expect that 2015 will be the year when total shipments finally break through the pre-recession sales peak, with total shipments of 30,399 units forecast, representing a growth of 10%. Orders are also forecast to grow by 6.8% to a total of 32,087, above their 2007 peak”, commented Leonard.

Performance in the warehouse sector is the real success story. In 2014 total warehouse shipments grew by 11.5% compared to the forecast of 10.2% and orders came in ahead of expectations at 17.5% versus the 11.7% forecast. This has resulted in the forecast for 2015 being upgraded as consumers’ rising disposable income, related to falling petrol and energy costs, has facilitated increased spending so boosting online shopping and driving the warehouse and distribution sectors.

In comparison counterbalance shipments since the last report have been relatively disappointing. In 2014 shipments grew by 6.1% compared to the forecast of 6.9%. This has resulted in the forecast for 2015 being downgraded slightly, but counterbalance orders and shipments are expected to begin picking up in the second half of 2015 as the improving economy drives new orders and confidence expands in manufacturing, key to counterbalance orders.

BITA members’ survey

The Oxford Economics report also includes a bi-annual survey of BITA members themselves, which revealed the optimistic outlook among members continuing from the autumn survey.

The majority of respondents expect general market conditions to remain constant in the coming 12 months, while approximately 17% thought conditions would improve. None expected conditions to deteriorate. The main sectors which members expected would be the mainstay of growth were from consumer facing and transportation sectors such as retail and wholesale, food and tobacco and transport and storage firms.

Looking at their own firms’ sales respondents were very optimistic, with all respondents expecting either modest (83%) or significant (17%) growth in sales, with significant growth being defined as above 10%. Regarding forklift prices, 83% expected that prices would rise modestly, reflecting growing demand.

For the second time this survey included a question on the extent of substitution away from diesel engine trucks towards electric motive power. BITA members’ responses to this question suggest that this is happening, with 50% of respondents saying they had noticed some substitution, reflecting tighter legislation around diesel engines and a growing awareness of the environmental impact of diesel trucks.

Consolidated apprenticeship scheme

BITA Secretary General James Clark gave a presentation on the apprenticeship scheme for the industry, developed in partnership with our colleagues in the Fork Lift Truck Association, outlining a positive picture of the scheme as it continues to develop and grow.

Rob Fisher of Informa also gave a presentation outlining progress around next year’s IMHX show taking place from 13-16 September 2016 at Birmingham’s NEC – with this event looking as if it could be the biggest yet.

Once again this year’s chosen charity was Transaid, with £2,070raised for this very worthy cause by members at the BITA Ball held the same evening.

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