A DBX is an Aston Martin in the same way vegan paste in dairy-free 'pastry' is a sausage roll. The company that makes beautiful cars, in the same way that Michelangelo sculpted extraordinary statues (it's exactly the same ...), made a £51 million loss in the first three months of this year, marginally up on the same time last year. It revealed cash outflows of £118 million in the quarter as it overhauls its stable of vehicles and improves production and supply chains, leaving net debt at £868 million. Having said that, between January and March Aston Martin delivered 1,269 cars, 9 per cent more than in the first quarter of 2022.
Although Aston are making an alluring fist of it (ignoring the DBX) manufacturing in Britain continues to be something of a mug's game. The purchasing managers’ index, compiled by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply and S&P Global, dropped to a three-month low of 47.8. The reading puts the sector, which accounts for about 10 per cent of the economy, firmly below the 50 mark that separates growth from decline. So, it is good news for Aston Martin, but not the best.
Stronger consumer demand was particularly pronounced in the travel, tourism and leisure sub-sectors, according to respondents, as tourists are flocking to see why we are in such a state at the moment.
The financial services sector is once again soaring, but manufacturing is the dumb, faintly embarrassing daughter of the UK's business family. It is always useful to compare the UK to our continental European cousins and, who would have guessed that, in the same period, Germany, whose strength in exports earned its title as the “factory of Europe,” recorded a PMI of 44.5, making it the second-weakest performer in April. Greece was the only one of the eight economies to record growth in the sector with a PMI of 52.4.
That's right, Greece. What do they make? They are all over olive oil (not manufacturing). Okay, well they also export a lot of cheese and cotton. Not manufacturing? Well, digging a little deeper we discovered the Greeks also make machinery, transportation equipment, launch vehicles and military satellites.
Meanwhile the British manufacturing sector is suffering, with output and new orders contracting, as manufacturers felt the impacts of client uncertainty, destocking and tightening cost controls. Flip that coin and see that supplier lead times have now shortened in each of the past three months, providing welcome news in terms of improved resource availability and helping drive down raw material price pressures.
Barratt the builder have somehow made a great profit so far this year, as the housing sector inexplicably saw the first monthly rise in prices for nine months, with Middlesbrough leading the way. Sorry, no; London, that's London leading the way.