Posted: 13/04/17 by Northamptonshire Chamber
The survey for Q1 2017 covers the three months from January to March 2017. It was conducted from February 20 to March 13 this year and contains responses from 72 businesses employing 4,631 people from across the county.
Research into UK sales activity revealed the manufacturing sector has rebounded sharply from Q3 2016 with 35% of businesses reporting their UK sales had increased – the highest percentage since Q2 of 2014. In total 29% of businesses in the services sector reported their UK sales had increased – up from 13% in the previous quarter. The percentage of service sector businesses reporting an increase in their export activities also rose by 27% from Q4 of 2016.
Encouragingly the manufacturing sector revealed its headcount had continued to rise during the first quarter of 2017. This continues an upward trajectory dating back to Q2 2016 and the number of manufacturers citing they had increased their workforce reached its highest level since Q1 2015. Whilst the services sector reported its headcount had dropped this quarter, optimistically businesses in both sectors indicated they were likely to hire more staff in the next quarter. The figures also show that 17% of manufacturing sector firms expect their headcount to rise and 39% of services sector firms predict their figures will increase.
During the first quarter of the year the services sector also reported an improvement in its cashflow and that its investment in plant/machinery had risen to 5% from 1% in the previous quarter. Both sectors also reported a rise in investment for training during the quarter. Manufacturers revealed an increase of 7% to 17% and the services sector reported an even greater increase of 12% taking their investment figure for training to 21%.
When questioned 68% of manufacturers said their turnover had increased and 59% of service sector firms reported that confidence as measured by turnover had improved.
Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Paul Griffiths said: “It’s very encouraging to see that UK sales activity for manufacturers has rebounded this quarter and is at its highest point since the middle of 2014.
“This, combined with a rise in export activities for service sector businesses and predictions for increases in the workforces for both sectors, points to a positive outlook for the county’s economy.
“Continuing investment in both sectors also indicates they remain committed to taking a long term approach as we move towards a post-Brexit era.”