Image: Michael Beckwith - Wikimedia Commons
Richard Bell

North West business confidence rebounds in Q3 2015

Confidence among businesses across the North West has grown this quarter, according to the findings of the most recent ICAEW/Grant Thornton Business Confidence Monitor (BCM).

The BCM recorded a confidence index score of +28.3, with a score +100 representing ‘much more confident’, 0 representing ‘As confident’ and -100 ‘much less confident’. In the previous quarter, the index was found to stand at +12.2.

ICAEW’s regional director, Melanie Christie, said: “It is reassuring to see, following the General Election, a positive increase in confidence for the North West.

“The government pledge on the Northern Powerhouse will help to boost optimism further. However, it is vital for the government to continue pushing this project forward in order to maintain business confidence in the region.”

She added: “It is also encouraging to see businesses increase investment in staff, as a shortage of skills may become more of a challenge for the region. Therefore, it is essential for businesses to continue prioritising investment for training and development to help to prevent this from restricting growth.”

The report also found that average profits for North West companies have risen by 4.8% in Q3 2015, while average turnover increased by 4.4%.

Carl Williams, business advisory firm Grant Thornton’s managing partner in the North West, said: “Confidence is one of the ingredients of growth, so the market sentiment is encouraging.

“We think devolution and the Powerhouse agendas are providing a positive and empowering context for the region. That said, skills shortages are one of the problems of the upturn and innovation-based businesses are still reporting gaps in the funding landscape.”

He continued: “That’s really about an aversion to risk from funders, which needs to change.”

Meanwhile, the BCM also found that employment growth across the North West has risen to 2.9%, up from 2.2% at the same point in 2014.

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