UK connector sales jump in 2021

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New figures compiled by the Interconnect Technology Suppliers Association (ITSA) show that UK connector sales hit record numbers in 2021, as the sector enjoyed what has been described as “a bumper year,” by John Biggs, ITSA’s Chairman.

On average ITSA members reported 2021 sales up over 17% on 2020, and revenues back at 5% over pre-pandemic levels. Among some members revenue growth of up to 40% was reported while others reported growth in bookings of almost 60% growth year on year.

2021 orders advanced 37% year on year and are 18% up on pre-pandemic levels.

Virtually every market sector contributed to this strong performance with suppliers benefitting from increased sales in automation driven by investment in warehouses to meet increased online sales, while the trend to working from home and remote working during the pandemic buoyed demand from data centre equipment suppliers.

Medical electronics has been another stand out for the connector business, alongside traffic management, test and measurement, and mass transportation.

Broadcast was also seen as finding its feet again with Covid restrictions easing and paving the way for a revival in the events business.

Commenting Biggs said, “The Mil/Aero market has a lot of activity, but this has not resulted in increased revenues yet. The rail market has seen some recent growth, but this does tend to be project specific.”

Figures show that coaxial connectors have been driving growth in terms of product sectors with sales ahead 33%. Fibre optic connectors and circular connectors for harsh environments reported low teens double digit growth.

“Overall, our members have enjoyed a bumper year, and most are back at or slightly above 2019 pre-pandemic levels,” said Biggs.

A book to bill ratio of between 1.1:1 up to 1.4:1 and a strong order book suggests 2022 will start strongly but ITSA members have indicated that this strong level of demand is unlikely to be sustained throughout 2022 and demand is expected to slow through the year.

According to ITSA, most of its members are budgeting for between 5% and 10% sales growth in 2022.

Among issues that are still impacting the industry are member’s ability to obtain raw materials which is still proving a challenge for some. Specific problem areas in the global supply chain include cables, fasteners, and other raw materials. Long lead times and further incoming price increase are also having an impact.

However, the healthy market for connector products has stimulated investment by ITSA member companies in terms of acquisitions as well as in continued investment in design and manufacturing facilities – this builds on the positive trend, in terms of investment, seen over the past two years despite the pandemic.