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New report signals North West businesses optimistic about future

A new report which tracks the confidence levels of North West businesses on a variety of issues was unveiled yesterday at Liverpool Business Fair.

New report signals North West businesses optimistic about future

A new report which tracks the confidence levels of North West businesses on a variety of issues was unveiled yesterday (21 March 2017) at Liverpool Business Fair.

According to the report, 94 per cent of businesses in the region are confident about their future success and their perceptions about the future are also positive with 86 per cent saying they expect turnover to improve and 91 per cent expecting to see an increase in the number of clients or customers they have.

The bi-annual North West Business Monitor (NWBM), compiled by Liverpool BA (Business Association) and Manchester-based independent market research consultancy, Lookout, provides insight into a wide range of issues facing the business owners and senior managers of hundreds of North West enterprises.

The impact of last year’s Brexit vote has received mixed reactions with 18 per cent saying that leaving the EU has already had a negative impact on their business. Of these, 17 per cent said they have already seen an impact on customer orders and 13 per cent said that their supplier costs have increased.

However, it has been ‘business as usual’ following the Brexit vote for the majority (78 per cent) of businesses in the North West, the fastest growing UK economy*.

Of the five per cent that were positive about Brexit, 14 per cent said it would bring them good export opportunities and ten per cent said it would benefit them in terms of import opportunities and increased customer orders.

Businesses in Manchester were least negative about Brexit (10 per cent), compared to 18 per cent of businesses in other areas of the region.

Fifty two per cent rated ‘Access to Business Support’ as the most significant factor affecting their business growth, closely followed by Regulation (49 per cent) and Access to Skilled Staff (48 per cent).

Transport Infrastructure, Access to Finance and Access to Training were all rated as the least significant factors affecting growth by around 30 per cent of businesses.

Tony Haines, Director of Liverpool BA, said: “Thanks to significant advances in technology over the last twenty years, it has never been easier to start a small business, to stay in touch with contacts and clients 24/7 and to work from any location. The importance of small business has also grown in this time, with SME’s now accounting for over 90 per cent of UK businesses.

“With more changes ahead for UK business, including the impact of Brexit, it is a very exciting time to monitor confidence levels as we steer our businesses through this rapidly changing time.

“We are delighted to launch this first report, in partnership with Lookout. Not only will it allow us to gather the views and opinions of our regional business community, but it will also enable us to feed back to local, regional and national agencies so that we can inform and influence any business related policies that are being developed.”

Eugene Tansey, Director of Lookout, said: “In 2016, the UK’s economic growth was around two per cent, which was better than predicted following Brexit. Many analysts are expecting a slowdown in 2017 due to a decline in business investment driven by uncertainty of the UK’s future with the EU. So it is interesting that Brexit is not seen as a significant issue in our survey and it will be really interesting to see how this changes in future surveys.

“It is also interesting to see that Access to Business Support is the most significant factor affecting business growth as this is an area which has failed to be addressed by Government policy with the Business Growth Service currently closed to new members.

“Overall, there is no doubt that the first North West Business Monitor tells positive story and, with our sample set to grow in 2017, we are all eagerly awaiting the results of our next North West Business Monitor.”

The North West Business Monitor will be produced twice a year, providing a barometer on a range of issues facing the region’s businesses, indicating levels of confidence in the UK economy and informing future business policy.

To take part in the North West Business Monitor 2017 (Q1/Q2), visit www.northwestbusinessmonitor.co.uk.

* The North West is the fastest growing economy in the UK according to the Regional and Local Economic Growth Statistics 2016.

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