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Norfolk Business Awards 2018

Exports help off-set price pressures in UK market, according to Norfolk Chamber of Commerce economic survey

PUBLISHED: 06:27 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:38 12 October 2017

Gnaw Chocolate's Matt Legon., who says the company has been boosted by exchange-rate fluctuations.
 Picture: Sonya Duncan

Gnaw Chocolate's Matt Legon., who says the company has been boosted by exchange-rate fluctuations. Picture: Sonya Duncan

ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434

Businesses are reaping the benefits of changing exchange rates when it comes to exports but feeling the pinch at home.

That is the picture painted by the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly economic survey for quarter three.

The snapshot was revealed as more than 100 businesses are set to come together today for the Chamber’s B2B Exhibition.

Jonathan Cage, president of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said recruitment was proving a particular difficulty for firms.

He said: “Generally a lot of businesses are busy and we can’t recruit, which is a big issue for us – especially in the service industry. I notice in the manufacturing figures it is clear they are at full output so to improve from where we are you need to bring people in.”

The balance of manufacturing businesses seeing positive home sales rose from 12% to 19%, with an improvement in export sales from 11% to 27% and export orders from 7% to 27%.

The amount of businesses operating at full capacity increased to 43% from 33% but concern over exchange rates also skyrocketed, with 76% of firms surveyed saying it was a worry – up from 47% for the period before.

Matt Legon, owner of confectioner Gnaw Chocolate, said his firm had grown by 40% in the year with increased exports due to exchange rates making up for price pressures at home. He said: “Where we are seeing some pressure in the UK, particularly in profitability, the opportunities have arisen in the export markets.

“For us 50% of our business is exports. We are just launching in China, we are in the US and we are in discussions in India as well.

“Export is really where our progress is while the UK is struggling a little bit but staying stable.”

Sales in the services sector, both UK and overseas, remained similar to the quarter before.

David Tuthill, director of Coleman Opticians in Great Yarmouth, said he had seen steady growth in customers. He said: “In terms of money in the till, customer spend is much the same as it was last year but profits themselves are actually down.

“This is mostly due to the fact that most of our suppliers, be it medical suppliers or frame manufacturers, do trade in US dollars as they are generally bigger multinational companies so the impact of Brexit on that was quite high.”

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