NW firms hire as order books fill up – but rising input costs pushes up prices

Latest Lloyds Bank Regional Purchasing Managers’ Index reveals an increase in customer orders among North West firms in July – the fast rise in business activity for three months. Tony McDonough reports

North West firms are taking on more staff to cope with growing order books, says Lloyds

 

Firms in the North West are hiring extra staff to cope with the fastest rise in business activity for three months.

The latest Lloyds Bank Regional Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) reveals an increase in customer orders in July.

North West business activity PMI registered 54.7 in July, up from June’s reading of 53.8 and marginally above the UK average of 54.1. A reading above 50 shows growth, whereas a reading below indicates contraction.

To meet increased demand, firms took on extra staff at a faster rate than the UK average, and at the quickest pace experienced locally in the last three months.

Improved market conditions led to business confidence increasing from June’s post-election low, although optimism remains historically weak, with concerns continuing around Brexit uncertainty.

Higher raw material costs from the weak pound contributed towards further rises in input prices.

Increased cost burdens were partly passed on to clients through higher prices charged for goods and services.

Martyn Kendrick, regional director for the North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “After observing a pattern of slowing business activity growth during the previous three months, it’s encouraging to see an acceleration in July.

New orders picking up pace is another positive indicator for the region’s economy, showing healthy demand for local firms’ goods and services.”

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