Businesses well placed to grow in 2015
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has published the results of its Q4 2014 survey. With responses from almost 7,000 firms it shows that an all-time high number of businesses set out to recruit staff in the final months of last year, in both manufacturing (+36%, compared to +32% in Q3) and services (+32%, up from +28% in Q3).
Other key findings are as follows:
In manufacturing, both domestic balances increased substantially; domestic sales (+36%, up from +23% in Q3) and domestic orders (+38%, up from +24% in Q3). However, these balances are still below the record highs recorded earlier in 2014.
In services, balances rose in Q4 after stagnating in Q3; domestic sales (+38%, up from +35% in Q3) and domestic orders (+33%, up from +29% in Q3).
The balance of manufacturing firms operating at full capacity rose by one point to +41% in Q4, while the number of service firms operating at full capacity remained consistent (+46%).
All export balances improved in Q4; manufacturing export sales rose by 10 points to +26%, while service export sales increased by one point to +22%.
A record number of manufacturers invested in training in Q4 (+39%, up from +32% in Q3) and a historically high proportion invested in plant and machinery (+36%, up from +29% in Q3).
In the manufacturing sector, the turnover confidence balance rose to +62%, five points below its last peak in Q1 2014. The service sector turnover confidence balance increased by two points to +60%, an historically high level.
Commenting on the findings, John Longworth, director general of the BCC, says: “British businesses are well placed to grow in 2015 – a testament to their hard-work and resilience. It is particularly pleasing to see the manufacturing sector bounce back, despite signs of a slowdown in recent months. However we must aim for growth that is sustainable for the long-term, rather than settle for second best.
“With employment and investment intentions at historically high levels, businesses are gearing up for a big year in 2015. It is now vitally important that firms are able to convert their growth ambitions into reality. Strengthening our business finance system, which constrains the growth aspirations of too many firms, will remain a decisive factor in securing a sustainable recovery.”