Business confidence continues to improve

Business confidence in the Sheffield City Region continues to improve, according to the latest economic report.

Results from the British Chambers of Commerce quarterly economic survey (QES) for the final quarter of 2013 indicated results were overall better than in the same quarter a year ago.

Almost 300 businesses across the Sheffield City Region, employing more than 40,000 people, took part in the national QES, which looks specifically at the manufacturing and services sectors.

Services showed improvements across most key areas including increased UK sales and orders, higher investment in machinery and training and improved cash flow, turnover and profitability.

Export sales and orders, along with employment expectations, remained static compared with the previous quarter (July to September 2013).

Meanwhile, the manufacturing results were particularly positive around export sales and orders which saw an improvement.

However, while results were positive, overall they were not as impressive in other key areas compared with what had been a successful third quarter of 2013. 

The sector saw a fall in UK sales and orders, as well as investment in machinery and training, and while turnover and profitability remain at good levels, they too had reduced.

Employment expectations and cash flow had remained static.

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

“These results mirror what we are hearing from businesses in a variety of sector across the Sheffield City Region.

“Confidence in the economy is improving and the green shoots of recovery are certainly visible.

“It is difficult to compare performance quarter by quarter as activity can fluctuate significantly.

“A more accurate measure of growth is against the same quarter a year ago and it is pleasing to see many areas in both sectors showing more positive results in 2013 compared with 2012.

“However, we must not take our foot off the pedal as levels continue to be low.

“More can still be done by the local authorities, LEP, Government and the Chambers of Commerce to support the environment in which businesses trade to ensure growth continues to progress, especially around exports and improving cash flow.

“Also, businesses must play their part by developing long-term plans and investing in the future, working collaboratively and with the public sector to devise projects which have a global impact.”   

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