South Wales Chamber of Commerce survey shows business confidence in Wales continues to rise

The South Wales Chamber of Commerce’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES), released today (2 October 2012), reveals confidence within the south Wales businesses community has continued to rise throughout the year as sales figures have improved.

The Q3 survey for 2012, which is sponsored by the chartered accountants, Broomfield and Alexander, shows that more than three-quarters (83%) of small and medium-sized businesses from Newport, Swansea, Cardiff and mid Wales are expecting so see their turnover over the next 12 months stay the same or increase.

Sales figures have improved, with almost three-quarters (74%) of businesses experiencing constant or increased orders, an improvement on the Q2 survey (71%). More than two-thirds (72%) of businesses have also reported that their advanced orders have remained steady or increased.

For businesses which trade internationally, more than two thirds (79%) reported increased or constant demand.

Graham Morgan, director at the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, said: “These figures reflect what we have been hearing from businesses over the last three months. While not all will have seen improvements, many are doing better than at the beginning of the year, and these figures will go a long way to improving the confidence in the wider south Wales business community. The greater the growth that internationally active businesses deliver, the more the opportunity there is for Welsh small to medium enterprises to feed into the supply chains.

“The figures for those businesses trading overseas are also encouraging. We have been saying for some time now that businesses in Wales must tap into overseas markets if they want to prosper and grow.

“We have a unique, yet short-lived, opportunity at the moment to capitalise on the international profile of ‘Brand GB’, and I would urge businesses to strike while the iron is hot and make the most of this opportunity while they still can.”

The survey also shows that almost half (49%) of businesses have been recruiting during the last three months with more than three-quarters (79%) of those seeking to fill full-time positions. However, almost half (45%) of those recruiting have reported difficulty finding the right staff.

Graham Morgan said: “The difficulty for businesses in recruiting a local workforce with the right skills is a problem and stems from skill requirements being misunderstood at school when youngsters are starting to look at their future careers, and selecting their GCSE and A-level options.

“A closer working relationship between business and industry, higher education and schools would go a significant way to solving this problem, and produce a home-grown workforce, equipped with the skills to ensure that jobs created locally can be taken by local people.”

The results of this survey, which monitors the performance of businesses in Newport, Swansea, Cardiff and mid Wales, act as a barometer for the strength of the Welsh economy.

Seamus Gates, director of Broomfield and Alexander, said: “The results of the latest economic survey by the SWCC are a good reflection of the experiences of our clients. While some struggle to maintain levels of business, others in certain niche trades and the IT services are beginning to see improvements.

“Overall, caution remains the watchword for the moment. The absence of significant economic turmoil over the last three months has at least given businesses the confidence needed to start to make long term plans for the months ahead.”