‘No need for businesses to panic despite slower growth’

A positive picture for Lancashire businesses was painted as the results of the latest Quarterly Economic Survey were revealed.

Stephen Gregson, Corporate Finance Director at Moore and Smalley, gave an inspirational talk on the state of the county’s businesses following detailed responses to questions by companies across the county.

The QES is compiled nationally by the British Chambers of Commerce and in Lancashire by the three Chambers, North and Western Lancashire, East Lancashire and Lancaster.

Mr Gregson told the event at Preston’s College, attended by about 100 businessmen and women: “There has been a significant increase in the manufacturing sector in the recruitment of full-time jobs.

“This is one example of the ups and downs of the economy. We do not have to get too panicked about it.

“What comes with this is that we are getting a greater sense of predictability. We have a sense of what the risks are and we can do more planning for that.

“What it is suggesting with recruitment being down is a little bit of a cause for concern but maybe what we are seeing is that recruitment has gone down because there has been more invested in kit, and that is one way of getting worker productivity up.

“If anything signifies that people feel confident about the future it must be investment and recruitment. Investment has gone up. If you are thinking that the future might be better you might be thinking about going to the bank and asking for money for investment.

“Our experience is we are starting to get swamped with transactional work. We are getting more and more enquiries about buying and selling.

“That could be because of confidence or there could just be a sense of people being fed up with doing nothing and wanting to just get on and try to do something.”

Mr Gregson’s talk was followed by a question and answer session with Andrew Howarth, managing director of Promenade Hotels, which owns Bartle Hall near Preston, and a networking session.

NWL Chamber president Norman Tenray said: “While the figures are in a slight decline, I am actually really reassured because we can see a bit of continuity and a little bit of sustainability coming through.

“The results over the past four years have shown that there is that consistency.

“Originally, for the first couple of years it was quite flat when we were really in deep recession but now we are coming out of recession we are starting to get some nice peaks and troughs, which is good because obviously if you go through a bit of growth you have got to consolidate and you have got to see those results come in and then you are going to invest.

“What I would urge any business out there to do is follow the QES, contribute to the QES and actually get along here and discuss the results with other businesses at this event because it is incredibly powerful.

“I use these results as one of the key indicators to help me make decisions within my business and I have found it incredibly accurate.”