Entrepreneurs' Forum survey reveals North East optimism

A positive picture of a growing economy has emerged from the Entrepreneurs' Forum Business Tracker Survey

Nigel Mills
Nigel Mills

North East entrepreneurs are continuing to report positivity within the economy, with pay, prices and capital expenditure all on the up.

As the Office for National Statistics reports a further lift in GDP, to 0.9% in the second quarter of 2014, the latest Entrepreneurs’ Forum Business Tracker Survey has been released covering the same period.

Businessmen who took part said they saw positivity throughout key indicators, painting a rosy picture of all aspects of business, including sales, profits, employment, wages, prices and spending.

The survey is conducted and compiled by leading research specialist Acritas, which found that 59% of those who took part reported an increase in overall sales, while 25% said levels had remained the same.

Within exports, 28% saw an increase and 47% had a retention of Q2 2013 levels.

A total of 53% reported profit increases and 24% said levels were maintained, and 46% reported an increase in employee numbers with 46% saying levels had not changed.

Prices increased for 24% but remained the same for 68%, and 55% reported an increase in remuneration while 43% said levels were the same.

Within capital expenditure, an increase was reported by 45%, and 45% said levels had remained as they were

Looking forward to the third quarter, optimism was high, particularly with regards overall sales, with 78% expecting an increase, and 70% actual profit.

Entrepreneurs also identified challenges and barriers to growth, including finding the skilled staff, connections to and from the North East in terms of choice and cost, and finding the right financial package that suits the business.

Nigel Mills, chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum in the North East, said: “The outlook amongst entrepreneurs, who are one of the key drivers of our economy, remains positive, although we continue to see those challenges to growth around staff, transport and finance.

“It’s true there are challenges and opportunities on the economic horizon, including future devolution of powers, a General Election and the levels to which interest rates will rise over the coming months.

“However, our survey of entrepreneurs shows that they are rising to the challenges and taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them.”

Among the firms confident of growth is Geocore Site Investigations of Redcar, which was founded in 1998 and now employs 25 people.

The £2.4m turnover firm has recently invested £1.5m in three rigs, unique to the UK market, to drill bore holes for ground source heat pumps in the domestic and commercial markets.

Managing director Adam Woodhead said: “We have been operating in the ground source heat pumps market for 10 years and these new rigs, which are innovative and allow our teams to work faster, expand the scope of work we can conduct. The advent of such incentives as the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive, which essentially pays people to use renewable technology such as heat pumps, has given us the confidence to invest in this market.

“While much of our work is in and around the London area, we were recently engaged by a Teesside-based transport company to work on its new warehouse.

“It is great that the growth of the company is also opening up opportunities to work more in our native North East, having previously mainly in the South since the recession. This is heartening, because it indicates positivity in the North East.”

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