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Gloucestershire Business News

Cheltenham's biggest private employer – and its view on the economy

You could say, judging from the trading statement of Cheltenham's largest private employer, that it is a glass half full kind of company.

Which probably explains why Spirax Sarco, the world-leading county-headquartered expert in steam engineering, is just that - world leading.

The opening paragraph of its most recent trading statement gives its interpretation of the 'global macro‐economic environment', describing the overall picture as only big companies talking to the City an investors can. It calls it "subdued".

"Growth for 2019 at 1.0 per cent, down from 1.6 per cent at the time of our Interim results announcement," it says.

And growth in countries with "developed economies" somewhere in the region of -0.3 per cent.

But Spirax Sarco's eggs are certainly not all in one basket, and it is able to draw and give considerable comfort from the view that growth in the "emerging economies" will be a dramatically different at 2.9 per cent. Much of that coming from China.

The downward movement elsewhere "continues the trend that we have seen since the first quarter of 2018 although."

That there is at least some growth is not the only good news. Its postage stamp analysis ends as follows: "On a more positive note, economic forecasters are suggesting that the fourth quarter of 2019 will be the bottom of the cycle with growth expected to improve to 1.7 per cent in 2020."

"Industrial production growth rates are forecast to continue to slow for the remainder of the year in both developed and emerging markets and while predictions for 2020 are less clear, forecasters are indicating a modestly improving trend through the next year.

"Comparisons with previous cycles would lead us to suspect that any macro‐economic recovery may be slower than predicted.

"Notwithstanding the economic backdrop, we continue with our investment programmes to support future growth and the implementation of our strategy to generate growth from our own actions to outperform our markets.

"We have good diversification across market sectors and geographic regions and remain focused on our strategies for growth, which, together with the group's fundamental strengths, stand us in good stead.

"Our overall expectations for the full year are unchanged and the board has confidence that the group will make further progress in 2019."

Also worthy of note - Andrew Mines, fresh in from Illinois Tool Works, and based in Cheltenham, is announced as the successor to Jay Whalen, president Spirax Sarco-owned Watson‐Marlow Fluid Technology Group (WMFTG) and executive director, will retire from December 31 after more than 28 years of service.

"Growth in the Watson‐Marlow Fluid Technology Group continues to be strong, above that seen in the first half of the year," said the statement.

The firm employs and estimated 1,100 staff in Gloucestershire.

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