Confidence drops in county as businesses feel the pinch from inflation

Lynsey Sweales, chief executive of Social B. Picture: Social B.

Lynsey Sweales, chief executive of Social B. Picture: Social B. - Credit: Social B

Despite steady growth across the country Norfolk has seen a decline in domestic and overseas sales at the start of 2017.

Caroline Williams Norfolk Chamber of Commerce chief executive.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Caroline Williams Norfolk Chamber of Commerce chief executive. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Norfolk Chamber of Commerce's quarterly economic survey found both the services and manufacturing sectors had seen a fall in sales and were facing struggles to recruit.

Both sectors also saw exports drop slightly, despite a weak pound making UK prices more attractive overseas.

However, Lynsey Sweales, chief executive of digital marketing firm Social B, said her company was doing fine with national and international clients helping to generate business.

She said: 'From our point of view in the digital service sector we are growing and still very busy.


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'That said it is not all rosy and there are challenges here in Norfolk, such as recruitment.

'We work with a lot of retailers both in and out of Norfolk and we have found as long as they are agile and keeping an eye on developments, such as online retail, they are doing well.

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'Firms have to be willing to spread their wings and go outside the region to get the business.'

The county's performance contrasts with the national picture which has seen a steady growth in confidence.

Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber, said: 'Whilst the national picture is still showing solid growth, the local view is not as optimistic. The impact of economic uncertainty is starting to show. The rise in inflation seen since last year's EU referendum is identified as an increasing pressure facing local businesses.'

The majority of Norfolk's manufacturers showed a loss of confidence with domestic sales dropping from 24% to 9%.

Kim Hastings, director at weld testing equipment manufacturer The Validation Centre, in Great Yarmouth, said the domestic market was proving tricky but overseas sales remained strong.

He said: 'On the data logging side we have not seen much difference. Our sales in Europe are fine and we are still exporting to the US as well.

'On the subsea equipment side of our business we have seen a decline in demand in the North Sea.

'We are probably down about 25% of where we would normally be.'

Mr Hastings added the low price of oil and gas was having the biggest impact on his sector.

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