Northamptonshire economy slowed but businesses still upbeat, says survey

Paul Griffiths

Paul Griffiths

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The Northamptonshire economy grew at a slower pace in the first quarter of 2016 with many businesses facing recruitment issues, according to the county chamber of commerce.

Between January and March this year, 8.5 per cent fewer service firms and 22 per cent fewer manufacturing firms reported their UK sales had remained consistent or increased when compared to the previous three months.

And, according to the chamber’s survey, of those businesses that reported attempts to recruit staff, every single one in the manufacturing sector and two-thirds of the service-based firms said that they experienced difficulties in finding suitable staff.

Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Northamptonshire Chamber, said: “Based on our key indicators, this latest survey suggests the local economy grew at

a slower pace in the first quarter of 2016, which is reflected at a national level by our colleagues at The British Chambers.

“It is concerning to see that businesses in Northamptonshire, in particular manufacturers, facing recruitment issues and reporting a fall in investment. The chamber will be monitoring this to see if this is a continuing trend.”

Despite this, Mr Griffiths says business confidence still remains at strong levels,

The businesses that responded to the survey employ 2,538 people.

And UK orders for both service and manufacturing firms remained consistent with fourth quarter figures.

Furthermore, there was a revival in export sales for firms operating in the service sector, with one fifth reporting a rise.

Mr Griffiths said: “It’s positive to see the service sector performing well overseas, however we would like this export revival replicated for our manufacturers.

“This is why we need further support from the Government to encourage exports, which in turn leads to increased business, inward investment and job creation.”

Meanwhile, ‘other overheads’ (for example energy costs) were the main price pressure for businesses, with competition cited as the main cause for concern.

In the manufacturing sector, exchange rates were cited as a second external factor of concern.