Business West, the region’s leading business organisation, has welcomed yesterday's official economic growth figures, saying they reflect the picture among local businesses.
But it warned that business could not turn around the regional economy by themselves – the Government had a role to play by creating an enterprise-friendly environment.
Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, which runs Bath Chamber of Commerce, said: “The modest, positive growth seen in the second quarter of the year shows things are looking up for UK businesses. The gradual progress made by the UK economy – particularly in the services sector where exports continue to surge – is really good to see. Confidence among businesses is high when looking ahead to profitability and turnover, and many intend to take on staff later this year.
“Our Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) made up of responses from some 400 businesses across the region is forward looking, compared with the ONS statistics which are retrospective. These official statistics now echo what businesses across the West Country have been telling us.”
He said local firms were feeling upbeat and were capable of expanding. More were adopting a ‘have a go’ attitude when it came to exporting.
The QES results for exporting showed a dramatic improvement on the first quarter with 17% more reporting an increase in export sales and 12% more reporting an increase in export orders.
“This is really encouraging and will help drive growth further still,” said Mr Smith.
“Results for UK sales and orders were also very positive. The majority of companies are reporting an increase in their UK sales, up 8% to 47%, and UK orders are up 11% to 43% over the past three months.
“But strong, sustained growth requires efforts from the Government too, as businesses need an enterprise-friendly environment for the economy to go from good to great. New and existing exporters need more support to help them diversify into fast-growing markets, and access to finance for dynamic, growing businesses must be made more available. Overall, however the figures provide a welcome, positive message.”