New figures showing a manufacturing revival in December reflect the ‘real economy’, according to Bradford business leader Stephen Wright.

The boss of Laisterdyke-based pneumatics equipment specialist Thorite, which supplies a wide range of manufacturers, Mr Wright welcomed the latest purchasing managers index which shows that manufacturing activity surged to a 15-month high in December.

Mr Wright, who is president of Bradford Chamber of Commerce and also chairs the regional advisory board of the manufacturers’ body EEF, who dubbed Bradford a ‘producer city’ at the chamber’s 2012 annual dinner, said that while winning orders remained difficult, Thorite’s December sales were five per cent ahead of a year earlier.

“Some of that is probably due to the fact that December was a short working month with many companies wanting to wrap things up before the festive break,” he said.

“But these new PMI figures do, I believe, reflect what is happening on the ground.

“This survey tends to be reliable and I feel that manufacturing is doing better than some other statistics show, even though many firms are still hunkering down and keeping a tight rein on costs and spending.

“The trend shown in the survey is also good news for Bradford which retains a higher than average level of manufacturing.”

The latest Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index showed a headline reading of 51.4 in December, marking a return to growth for the first time since March and the highest reading since September, 2011.

Manufacturers were boosted by increased demand from British firms, which helped output from the sector rise at the fastest pace for 20 months, offsetting an ongoing slump in orders from the crisis-hit eurozone.

The average PMI reading in the fourth quarter remained below the no-change level of 50 – which separates expansion from contraction – but higher than that seen in the third quarter and above the average over 2012 as a whole.

Manufacturers warned the sector was not out of the woods yet, with economic uncertainty continuing to hang over the UK and Europe.

EEF chief economist Lee Hopley said: “The rise in output and orders at the end of last year is a positive signal that the sector can continue to recovery in the year ahead, but the strength of that recovery will, as ever, depend on what happens in other parts of the world.

“The year 2013 is likely to remain challenging and exporters, in particular, will be hoping to see stability in the eurozone and signs that demand will continue to hold up in the US and emerging economies in the coming months.”