County firms experience mixed results at the end of 2012

Paul Griffiths

Paul Griffiths

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Last year saw mixed fortunes for Northamptonshire firms, with business leaders reporting increasing export sales but a drop in domestic sales in the last three months of the year.

Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) saw 146 businesses from across the county, which employ 19,811 people between them, give feedback about their experiences of the last three months of 2012.

The figures highlight that there has been a big drop in UK sales for businesses in all sectors.

Sixty-five per cent of businesses in the manufacturing sector said UK sales over October to December remained the same or increased. A figure which was 15 per cent down on the previous quarter.

But the good news for Northamptonshire firms came with successful exports – with 80 per cent of manufacturers’ export sales remaining the same or increasing over the final three months, with nearly half reporting increased sales.

The services sector exports sales also flourished with 76 per cent reporting an increase in export sales over the last three months and an equivalent number reporting an increase in advance orders.

Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Northamptonshire Chamber, said the survey’s results were postive, adding: “These latest QES results once again demonstrate how many companies in our county are exploring international markets, which is great news. It is also positive to see so many local businesses looking to recruit and creating jobs.

“Whilst, on the whole, businesses seem confident of the future, there are some negatives in these results, such as the drop in UK sales and the low number of firms investing in growth or the development of new skills.

“In 2013, I would like to see the Government act on its promise to encourage business growth with more radical ideas to support businesses.

“I hope that the Chancellor uses the Budget in March to pull out all the stops to enable British businesses to access new markets, invest and create jobs.”

Meanwhile, nearly half of all respondents, 49 per cent, tried to recruit new employees during the quarter but a large number of companies in the manufacturing and service sectors found difficulty in finding staff.