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Business confidence mixed as improvement remains slow

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Sheffield Chamber of Commerce has questioned whether the country is seeing the right type of recovery for sustainable growth, following the findings of a recent national survey.

Confidence amongst businesses in the Sheffield City Region continues to be a mixed picture, according to the latest British Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey (QES), which looks at the manufacturing and services sector between January and March 2014.

Manufacturing saw an unusually large drop in export sales and orders in the first three months of the year, compared with the last quarter of 2013, however there was an increase in UK sales and orders.

Employment expectations saw a slight reduction, while investment in machinery and training was a slight increase on last year’s final quarter.

Cashflow continues to be low. However, turnover and profitability remain at very high levels.

In the Service sector there was an increase in export sales and orders, while UK sales and orders remained the same as the previous quarter.

Employment expectations, cashflow, turnover and profitability were also static, but there was an increase in investment for machinery and training.

Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said:

“While these latest QES results do not paint a generally bad picture they are not hugely inspiring either. Both sectors fair better than in the same quarter a year ago, but only slightly.

“The results question whether we are seeing the right type of recovery and whether we are laying the foundations to allow us to trade our way in the world.

“How is the economy addressing the country’s international trade deficit to allow us to start making a surplus?

“The drop in manufacturing exports sales and orders is disappointing and an indication of how fragile the city region’s economy is.

“We need to be making greater strides forward in order to achieve meaningful and sustainable long-term growth to help prevent these fluxes from occurring in the future.”

The British Chamber of Commerce has launched a new dedicated QES results website to allow businesses across the country to analyse the findings. For more information visit www.economicsurvey.org.uk. 

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