Staffordshire Chambers’ survey reveals mixed fortunes for businesses…
Manufacturing firms fared better than the service industry during the last quarter of 2015, according to the latest economic survey by the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce.
UK sales and orders remained stable for both the manufacturing and service sectors. In overseas markets, manufacturers saw an increase in export activity, in contrast to the national picture. However, the service sector saw a significant drop in international sales and orders.
Business confidence had improved for both sectors, with more firms expecting their turnover and profitability to increase. Inflationary pressures were easing, with fewer firms expecting prices and costs to increase.
The survey also highlighted weaknesses and concerns for the local economy. Fewer firms were working at full capacity, and budgets for investment in plant, machinery and training had been reduced. More firms reported recruitment difficulties, especially for professional and managerial roles. For more than a half of respondents, competition was the biggest external factor impacting on their success.
Jane Gratton, Deputy Chief Executive at Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce said: “It is good to hear that Staffordshire’s manufacturing sector is performing well and that there remains a high level of exporting activity in our local economy. However, there are signs at a national level that the growth we have seen in recent months may be beginning to stall. Businesses need to be competitive and so it is essential that the government does all it can to provide essential infrastructure and reduce costs on business to a minimum. The additional costs of the National Living Wage and Auto-Enrolment, for example, will have a significant impact on employment costs for many local firms.”
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