North East confidence in economy and business highest for two years

More than 65% of business leaders in the Entrepreneurs’ Forum Business Tracker Survey had witnessed an increase in sales, compared with 2012

Spending chiefs have urged the creation of a new £200m fund to help SMEs
This business buoyancy looks set to continue into 2014

Confidence in businesses and the economy is at its highest since quarterly research by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum began almost two years ago.

More than 65% of business leaders in the latest Entrepreneurs’ Forum Business Tracker Survey, covering the fourth quarter of 2013, said that they had witnessed an increase in sales, compared with the same period in 2012.

Business fortunes and employment also were on the increase with 64% of respondents saying they had seen a rise in profits and 49% experiencing an expanding workforce in comparison to the same period in 2012.

This business buoyancy looks set to continue into 2014 with 75% confident that sales will increase in January to March compared to the first quarter of last year. Just under 70% expect profits to increase during that period.

The research, undertaken by Acritas, also has revealed that confidence in both respondents’ own businesses and the economy as a whole was at its highest level since the survey began at the beginning of 2012.

Nigel Mills, chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum said: “Entrepreneurial business owners are the lifeblood of the North East economy and its future prosperity and it is heartening to see that our Business Tracker Survey has revealed confidence is at its highest level since the research began

“This optimism is re-enforced by a majority of businesses surveyed reporting a growth in sales, profits and jobs.

“However, it cannot be ignored that there are some obstacles to business development with a key one being companies’ ability to find quality staff that meet a company’s needs.

“Going forward businesses, training organisations and the education sector need to work together to try to tackle this skills shortage.”

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