St Helens Chamber of Commerce predicts 2015/16 growth

St Helens Chamber of Commerce anticipates growth for a number of regional firms, according to their final Quarterly Economic Survey of 2014.

In a survey of 120 local businesses, with combined total of more than 6,000 employees, expansion plans seem to be on the agenda for many SMEs over the next two year period, flying in the face of decelerating local economic growth.

Those in the manufacturing sector have seen year-on-year growth in domestic markets. However, manufacturing firms’ investment plans expect to make cuts after five quarters of growth and non-domestic exports are still unpredictable even after an easing of exchange rates. Nonetheless, there is generally strong confidence for increased profits into 2015.

Conversely, services sector businesses have upped their investment budgets as a response to improving market conditions.

With better margins and falling input prices, cash flow increased for both manufacturing and services sectors at the close of 2014, though the pace of overall job creation did experience a slowdown throughout the year.

Tracy Mawson, chamber director of business services, said:

“St Helens’ results are reflecting the story at national level. The local service sector seems to be more buoyant, but manufacturing firms continue to experience difficult trading conditions abroad.

“Despite this, the latest survey shows that more respondents (71%) plan to grow their business over the next two years, reflecting our members’ ambitions.”

“There is still a lot of work to do to achieve long-term sustainable growth for St Helens and the UK.

“With a General Election looming this year, Britain’s political parties must commit to a long-term programme that delivers a stronger skills base, better access to finance for growing companies, more export support and a clear, consistent tax environment.

“With the support of our members, the chamber will continue to exert influence where it can, to challenge the Government on its policies to support business growth.”


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Words: Peter Cribley

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