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Norfolk businesses buck current trend on growth

PUBLISHED: 08:38 08 July 2014 | UPDATED: 08:38 08 July 2014

Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber

Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber

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Norfolk businesses bucked the trend reporting continued growth in services and manufacturing in the last quarter despite a slight slowdown nationally, figures released today reveal.

Figures compiled by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) for the second quarter of the year showed an increased risk to the UK’s prospects, it said revealing that some indicators of manufacturing and services performance eased following a surge earlier in the year.

The figures showed indicators on export sales and orders in the dominant services sector slipped from all-time highs achieved in the first quarter.

However, Norfolk businesses bucked the trend with businesses in services and manufacturing continuing to strengthen from the last quarter.

Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber, said: “Business confidence in Norfolk and across the East of England continues to grow. Many businesses are reporting strengthening order books for both UK and overseas sales. With increased certainty surrounding the local economy, businesses feel able to invest in staff, plant and machinery.

“However there is still room to grow, as the number of organisations operating at full capacity remains low. Inflation remains a concern for all sectors, as is does the difficulties in recruiting staff.

BCC director-general John Longworth said the poll of 7,000 firms showed the recovery was moving forward and that a modest decline in investment and exports after they “jolted forward” in the first quarter was unsurprising.

But he warned that a “broken business finance system” constraining access to funds needed by firms for growth must be fixed.

And he cautioned against a “hasty” rise in interest rates.

“These results reinforce the case against the Bank of England making any hasty decisions on raising interest rates in the very short term,” he said. “We must nurture the business confidence we are seeing at present by giving firms the security of working in a low interest rate environment for the foreseeable future – with eventual rises both moderate and predictable.

“At this crucial stage of the economic cycle, the UK cannot afford populist decision-making that undermines strategic long-term decisions as this could jeopardise our national success in the years to come.”

Do you have a business story for the EDP? Email ben.woods@archant.co.uk

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