Ben Woods, Business writer
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Norfolk businesses have reported strengthening confidence in manufacturing and exports despite cashflow remaining an underlying concern, a survey has revealed.
Fears that a manufacturing growth spurt might be short-lived in Q3 have been allayed by further signs of positivity, with increases in domestic orders (+21pc), turnover confidence (+45pc), and profitability confidence (+35pc), according to the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly economic survey.
But cashflow in Norfolk fell back from Q3, with business leaders calling for a need to promote access to finance so firms can expand to meet their growing order books.
Caroline Williams, chief executive of the Norfolk chamber said: “It is a fantastic to start the New Year with a very positive quarterly survey.
“Confidence is high and our members are resolute in their determination to take the recovery from being good to being truly great.
“Firms from all sectors across the county believe they can create jobs, invest, and export. It is especially pleasing that the spurt in the manufacturing has proven not to be a fluke, which demonstrates the dynamism of our small, high-value, manufacturing sector.
“But Norfolk businesses have major ambitions, and to be able to meet them, more support must be provided.
“Cashflow continues to be an ongoing concern, and may hold businesses back from expanding to meet the growing levels of demand. We must give companies the opportunity to get the finance they need to go out and trade the world if we are to succeed in rebalancing the economy.”
According to the findings, export balances in the Norfolk services sector are at record highs, with positivity surrounding export sales (+69pc) and export orders (+66pc). Meanwhile, the services sector employment balance has risen by seven points to +24pc.
But the key Norfolk balances in manufacturing for domestic sales and orders fell slightly – although the results were still strong.
John Longworth, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce, said: “As the 2015 general election looms ever closer, the government cannot afford to get distracted by short-term political infighting.
“Long-term growth strategies must be delivered with a strong national consensus, particularly around the infrastructure investments that the country sorely needs.
“Only then will we have an environment that fosters enterprise and an economy which meets its true potential.”
Official figures show gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.5pc in the first quarter of 2013, accelerating to 0.8pc in the second and third quarters.
The BCC expects, on the basis of its survey results, that the fourth quarter will have seen growth of 0.9pc.
It shows most key indicators for the economy over the period better than pre-recession levels in 2007.