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Latest predictions for the UK forklift market from BITA

BITA, the British Industrial Truck Association, used its 2009 AGM on April 24 to reveal the latest predictions for the UK forklift market. While BITA’s third Economic Fore report inevitably painted a downbeat picture of the current market situation, it offered small crumbs of comfort in the apparent resilience of specific sectors such as the service industries. By way of a more uplifting counterpoint, independent business adviser Cathy Bennett shared seven tips for ‘surviving and thriving’ in the recession.

As indicated by BITA’s own members’ sales statistics, issued in March, the Economic Fore predicts an extended and significant downturn for the lift truck industry.

Its key points were:

1 Current lift-truck industry fortunes are directly linked to the retail and manufacturing industries – until they recover, the lift truck industry will not bounce back

2 A deep decline is expected, with unprecedented falls in shipments and orders for 2009 across all classes of industrial truck

3 Only moderate growth is expected for 2010, but a stronger rebound could occur in 2011, as the economic recovery gathers pace

4 Compared with last year, counterbalance shipments are expected to drop by a total of 47.4%, warehouse shipments by 49.5% for Class Two, and 42.6% for Class Three

The report is authored by Oxford Economics, whose high-quality quantitative analysis and practical, evidence-based advice already helps businesses, governments and international organisations make confident decisions about tactics, strategy and policy.

James Clark, secretary general of BITA, said: "When we invested in this economic foreing service for members, we knew it would be an invaluable tool for helping the industry predict, plan towards and prepare themselves for the future. I believe the current economic situation now validates our investment, since while we know we are in the grip of a recession, it’s essential now to establish a clear path through the downturn and, ultimately, out of it with success."

BITA’s role in protecting the industry
At the AGM, BITA President Richard Close (CEO of Briggs Equipment) reinforced the highly influential role of BITA’s technical policy committee (TPC), chaired by Derek Rice of Electrofit-Zapi, in safeguarding the industry against inappropriate EU directives. For example, a recent proposal concerning the height of control pedals developed for road-going haulage trucks, could have been applied to lift trucks even though it was inappropriate for them. BITA’s TPC intervened and ensured this did not enter legislation.

Richard said: "I would go so far as to say that the lift-truck industry could not function without BITA’s TPC acting to soften inappropriate and unworkable rules."

The TPC meets twice a year and is engaged with a number of key international standard-setting bodies including the BSI, the British Standards Institution, CEN, the European Committee for Standardization, ISO, the International Standards Organisation, and IEC, the International Electrotechnical Commission.

Sensible, independent advice for surviving and thriving

Independent business guru, Cathy Bennett, outlined her tips for survival in the recession, giving a motivational presentation for getting through the current economic downturn. Her strategy offered seven tips for surviving the slump, and included adding value to the customer – a view which firmly echoes President Richard Close’s ethos for the industry.

Cathy said: "Survival and success for the BITA members were my key messages. Above all a positive mindset is the key to surviving, and thriving. I believe in consistently applying the basics, sticking to what you are good at and then making sure you deliver what you promise, and I reiterated that to BITA members. In terms of success, it is vital to prepare for the industry’s recovery, by creating innovative solutions for your customers which set you ahead of the competition."

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