Businesses at Norfolk Show echo national increase in confidence
PUBLISHED: 14:39 28 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:03 28 June 2018
Archant Norfolk 2018
A "bullish" attitude and a desire to maintain momentum typified the mood among East Anglian businesses on the first day of the Royal Norfolk Show.
The Federation of Small Business’ (FSB) quarterly index, indicating business confidence, was at +18 for the first three months of the year – an increase from -4 in the last quarter of 2017, while one in three (35%) respondents expect their performance to improve over the coming three months.
Speaking at the Royal Norfolk Show, FSB national vice chairman Melanie Ulyatt said: “Businesses are feeling resilient and quite confident despite the challenges. The message to share is that today, we are doing very well.”
Attendees at the show echoed the increased feelings of positivity.
At a breakfast hosted by Mills and Reeve, focusing on food and farming, a poll of the 170-strong audience showed more than two thirds felt positive about the future of the agricultural industry.
James Hunter, partner at Mills and Reeve in Norwich, said an increase in mergers and acquisitions activity showed growing levels of confidence.
“People have been pretty bullish,” he said.
“Businesses are focusing more now on the need to invest. There is a realisation that innovation is going to be necessary for them to remain competitive.”
Alistair Fish, agricultural partner at M+A Partners, said: “There are clearly people that are going to be more significantly influenced by changes from Brexit as yet unknown, but they are seeing it as something they just have they just have to carry on through.”
Alan Boswell, executive chairman of Alan Boswell Group, said business patience with the negotiations was wearing thin, despite the resilience of the East Anglian economy.
“We’re just desperate to have Brexit done and dusted,” he said.
“There are opportunities out there we can’t deal with now because we don’t know where we’re going to be in 12 months.”
The local economy was also on the agenda for Norfolk County Council, with new council leader Andrew Proctor talking to visitors about his plans to boost economic growth.
Speaking at the event, chief executive of New Anglia LEP Chris Starkie said the business community needed to set “ambitious” targets.