Lending by the top UK manufacturers reached a post-crisis high last year with £16bn (€19.4bn) in credit being offered to customers.

The amount is up by 47% from the £10.9bn recorded in 2008 by the 35 biggest FTSE-listed manufacturers, with manufacturer lending up £200m last year alone, according to research by asset finance services firm LPM Outsourcing.

Ian Dennis, business development director at LPM, said manufacturers stepped in to fill the gap left by a reduction in bank lending to ensure sales were not lost in a low-investment environment and said he expects the trend to continue despite a growing business confidence.

"Now, although the general economic outlook has improved and businesses are far more confident about investing for growth, bank lending is still very far behind pre-crisis levels. That’s not likely to change because banks are under such pressure to increase the amount of capital they hold on their balance sheets, making their lending activities less profitable."

"That means that as the economic recovery drives increased demand for capital goods, we are likely to see lending by manufacturers play an even bigger growth in funding those much-needed acquisitions by businesses."

Dennis also highlighted an increase in UK lending activity by the finance arms of technology firms Ricoh, Dell and Cisco as evidence of an increase in captive financing in recent years.