Confident outlook from C&W businesses despite gloomy forecasts

Despite gloomy forecasts for the UK economy, the majority of companies in Coventry and Warwickshire are confident about the year ahead.

That was the main finding of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s first Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) of 2013. The survey is carried out in conjunction with the British Chambers of Commerce and acts as a barometer to the economy.

The survey found that 74 per cent of companies in manufacturing believed their turnover will rise in the next 12 months compared to 66 per cent in the last poll of firms.

In the service sector, 69 per cent of firms said turnover would improve over the course of the next year – slightly down from a figure of 71 per cent in the last survey.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The QES gives us a good picture of how businesses across the region are looking ahead and these results are positive.

“Manufacturing companies, in particular, are showing real signs of confidence with almost three-quarters expecting their turnover to rise over the course of the next year and 67 per cent believe profits will go up too.

“The manufacturing and engineering sector is crucial for this region and its future growth is vital as we look to rebalance our economy.

“That is why we recently announced our link with EEF, MAS and UKTI to really drive this sector forward in Coventry and Warwickshire and build on the positive outlook many have.

“Confidence in the service sector fell slightly but, still, the majority of companies believe their fortunes will improve in the next year.

“Again, our support for this sector remains strong and it’s vital that businesses use the services available to them to help them to survive and grow.”

On the jobs front, 34 per cent of service-based businesses were expecting to take on new staff with 60 per cent saying they would keep their workforce at the same level.

In manufacturing, 44 per cent of companies wanted to add to their workforce, with 52 per cent expecting to keep it constant.

In terms of advance orders and bookings, 43 per cent of businesses in the service sector said domestic sales were up while 40 per cent said they were steady.

In manufacturing, UK advance orders have risen for 44 per cent of firms and have remained the same for 40 per cent.

Advanced orders and bookings in overseas markets had risen for 71 per cent of service sector companies and for 65 per cent of manufacturers.

Louise added: “The national economic figures have been very mixed but many businesses – not all – are confident that they can get on and grow their own companies despite external factors.

“It’s good to see overseas orders are growing and that is something else that must be nurtured and our international trade team has a great track record of supporting our exporters.

“It really is vital, during this climate, particularly, that companies take advantage of the help that is available to them. Whether they are fighting to survive or confident that they can expand, the support is here.”