Any score of above 50 indicates the industry is growing, so this represents a surge in manufacturing activity.
However, it does not necessarily indicate a return to sustainable growth. Some of this activity was likely caused by fear rather than optimism.
Suppliers’ delivery times worsened at the most rapid pace since the first lockdown, with businesses citing delays at ports as a key problem. This also encouraged more stockpiling.
Duncan Brock of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, which carries out the survey alongside IHS Markit, said: “This rush to secure supplies meant already stressed supply chains paid the price with some of the longest delays in the near 30-year survey history.
“Bunged-up ports caused backlogs to rise to levels not seen for a decade and optimism for the year ahead dropped to a six-month low as the challenges for manufacturers just kept coming.”
“After a severely turbulent year, UK makers still have a great deal to worry about. Job numbers continue to fall, and material shortages have resulted in the highest cost inflation since 2018,” he added. “The sector is holding its breath until the terms of the new deal are fully understood and whether new business can be sustained in the same way in a post-Brexit marketplace.”
Meanwhile the eurozone’s manufacturing PMI rose to 55.2, led by Germany where it hit a near-three year high of 58.3.
Companies on the continent were also hit by supply delays and price rises, the survey found, while demand related to Brexit stockpiling contributed to strong sales in the month.