THE North East is renowned for its automotive sector.

With a high concentration of manufacturers specialising in cars, highway vehicles, zero emissions commercial electric vehicles and engine builders, it’s home to leading original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) including Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK and Cummins.

Next month, the region will celebrate the resilience of this sector at the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA), where it will showcase the firms that are responsible for producing more than 508,400 vehicles and 325,000 engines.

But despite its reputation, recent uncertainty has had an impact on confidence across the region – specifically on business prospects. According to our latest Business Barometer, confidence has dipped three per cent in the North-East since November.

At times of uncertainty, managing working capital is more important than ever, but understanding how to do this effectively can appear daunting.

Fortunately, there is tailored guidance and a range of specialist tools on hand to help firms find their feet and approach the new decade with the confidence to match the region’s reputation for quality manufacturing.

Whether it’s to address short-term financial challenges or to develop a long-term growth strategy, learning how to manage working capital is key to businesses achieving their goals.

Our latest Working Capital Index found that businesses across the North of England have a total of £65billion tied up in working capital.

Closely managing working capital will not only help firms respond to sudden short-term challenges, but also enable them to make important strategic decisions quickly in what is a fast-changing landscape.

A first practical step for SMEs is always to invoice and collect debts on time or even early. If that’s not an option, financial products such as overdrafts, credit cards or short-term loans are flexible solutions to swiftly tackle small dips.

Meanwhile, for sizeable or long-term cashflow requirements, asset-based lending can allow businesses such as car manufacturers to access money that has already been invested in their business – whether it’s tied up in stock, plant machinery or property.

Thorough preparation is key for local businesses in the manufacturing sector, especially those specialising in cars, looking to capitalise on burgeoning opportunities.

At Lloyds Bank, we’re committed to working by the side of local firms and expect to lend up to £700 million to support the North-East during 2020, driving growth and reinstating confidence to help Britain prosper.