Businesses warn that growth in Norfolk is too slow - according to new survey

PUBLISHED: 06:30 03 July 2012

Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

Archant © 2011

Economic growth in Norfolk is still too slow with manufacturing firms noting a drop in exports - according to the latest quarterly survey.

The British Chamber of Commerce quarterly economic survey concluded that businesses are growing, but the pace is sluggish and inadequate for a sustainable recovery.

The new survey, comprising responses from 7,805 businesses, including Norfolk firms, shows that while many of the balances it measures are in positive territory suggesting growth, they are still below levels seen before the recession in 2007.

Nationally, it notes a surprisingly good improvement in exporting activity in the UK, suggesting that businesses are looking to exporting as a source of growth.

But Norfolk manufacturers reported a slow-down in export sales and orders, with sales falling by eight points to 37pc and orders falling by 17 points to 20pc.

Norfolk survey results also showed a sharp fall (38pc) on home sales and orders among manufacturers.

However, Norfolk’s service sector had a much better quarter and increased their sales from 0pc to 58pc and orders increased from 5pc to 61pc.

The manufacturing and the service sectors both reported an increase in the number of businesses trying to recruit staff and there had been a slight improvement in cashflow.

The turmoil in Europe is having an effect on businesses in the Eastern region with Norfolk firms reporting heightened concern regarding exchange rates.

Caroline Williams CEO Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said firms needed to take advantage of export opportunities beyond Europe.

“Although the challenging Norfolk results are not a great surprise it is disappointing that our businesses are finding it so tough,” she said.

“Domestic growth is limited and our manufacturing exporters are not reflecting the increase seen elsewhere in the UK although the service industries had a better quarter.

“Export opportunities outside Europe need to be taken advantage of and this is a key reason why we have invited 14 countries to attend our free Global Marketplace event in September to enable businesses to assess what the opportunities are for them.

“Although Norfolk business confidence is still lower than pre-recession level in 2007 there is a real determined attitude within the Norfolk business community that they will ride out whatever is thrown at them and grab every possible opportunity,” she added.

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