Survey: Suffolk businesses doing well, but some future concerns remain
Suffolk businesses, especially those in manufacturing, are reporting stronger sales, orders and employment data in the third quarter of this year, compared to the second three-month period of 2017.
The latest figures from Suffolk Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) also show that business performance and sentiment in the county frequently outstrips that elsewhere in the east of England and this gap is largest in terms of overseas orders suggesting a strengthening international trade success story from Suffolk-based companies.
The key headlines from the 165 Suffolk businesses who replied to the survey are:
- The balance of manufacturing firms reporting an increase in domestic sales rose from +12% to +26% and +19% to +25% for those in services
- The balance of manufacturing firms reporting an increase in domestic orders rose from +7% to +33% and +10% to +21% for those in services
- The balance of manufacturing firms reporting an increase in overseas sales rose slightly from +27% to +29%, compared with the east of England as a whole rising from +21% to +23%
- The balance of manufacturing firms reporting an increase in overseas orders rose from +24% to +33%, compared with the east of England as a whole rising from +16% to +21%
- The balance of firms recruiting staff rose from +18% to +29% for manufacturers and from +11% to +18% for service sector companies
In addition, Suffolk firms reported positive balances for cashflow and investment plans. However, there were slight declines in the balance of the number of Suffolk businesses forecasting a future improvement in both turnover and profitability, although both figures remain positive.
John Dugmore, Suffolk Chamber’s chief executive, said “these figures show that Suffolk PLC is performing well across many of its core market sectors. This is great news and a testimony to the ceaseless entrepreneurial spirit of Suffolk’s business community, including taking speedy advantage of macro factors such as comparatively benevolent exchange rates.
“Suffolk Chamber is pleased to have be playing a role in supporting businesses, especially those looking to export through our documentation service and to break into new markets via our many country specific workshops.”
However, John Dugmore also highlighted the concerns revealed in the QES that many exporters and importers have about future exchange rate fluctuations. “It shows how vital it is that the government gets the Brexit negotiations just right, including a transitional period to allow companies to adapt to any new trading arrangements.”
Suffolk Chamber is grateful to Suffolk Knowledge, part of Suffolk County Council, for providing the analysis of the QES.