State of the Region 2013: Returning confidence boosts business growth plans

GROWTH is firmly on the agenda for businesses in Yorkshire but international expansion is not being seen as the saviour of the economy as price pressures continue to bite.

And despite limited bank lending being a continued barrier to expansion, many organisations believe confidence is returning and the economic recovery is underway.
 
These are some of the key findings on TheBusinessDesk.com’s annual State of the Region survey, which gives a comprehensive barometer of business sentiment across the online news service’s three heartlands of Yorkshire, the North West and West Midlands.

The fourth year the survey has been run, it has once again been completed by hundreds of business leaders, with 70% of respondents in Yorkshire being either a business owner, chairman, chief executive, managing director, partner or director.

TheBusinessDesk.com has once again run this milestone project in association with lead sponsor, law firm DLA Piper. The initiative is also supported by Yorkshire Bank and the CBI.

STATE OF THE REGION 2013: DOWNLOAD AN IN-DEPTH REPORT OF THE FINDINGS HERE

In Yorkshire, one of the most significant changes from last year’s survey was that business confidence in the region has been boosted, with 64% of people saying Yorkshire is a good place to do business.

And allied to that, 78% of respondents expect to see turnover at their businesses increase this year – the highest figure in the survey’s history and 20% up on last year.

Businesses identified bank lending as having the biggest impact in terms of restoring confidence (35%), with tax cuts also being seen as key (19%).

Despite the government hailing exporting as a key way for the economy to recover, 78% of respondents see regional and national markets as offering the best opportunities for expansion.

Europe and the BRIC economies were the global regions which businesses who are looking to trade internationally are most likely to focus on.

The region’s enterprise zones – pockets of land seen as hubs for job creation and growth trumpeted by the government – have seemilngly taken a backward step in terms of public perception.

Almost 70% of respondents to last year’s survey saw them as a positive step for Yorkshire, while just 24% gave the same reponse this time.

Sarah DayCommenting on the findings, Sarah Day, office managing partner at DLA Piper in Leeds, said: “A return to confidence amongst the business community is exactly what we need to collectively achieve growth and this burgeoning attitude is reflected throughout the results.

“Almost 80% are expecting growth of some kind, with just 6% predicting contraction – a much more positive outcome than the previous 12 months.

“This is a sentiment that we have felt building over the last quarter, where businesses seem to be developing a renewed, albeit cautious, appetite for new opportunities rather than playing a game of wait and see.
 
“The next 12 months will not be without its challenges and, perhaps predictably, funding, price pressure and market demand all come through as key areas of concern.

“There is also some indication that enthusiasm to target international markets is waning slightly and this is a worry given that the competition faced by our regions is increasingly global. A focus on  international growth and recognition, coupled with a more bullish approach by corporates, will help to keep the wheels turning as we look forward into 2013.”

Alan Young, regional director, business and private bank at Yorkshire Bank, said: “The view of the potential for growth in turnover demonstrates the resilience of business owners across our region.

“Notwithstanding the economic conditions we have continued to see businesses with an appetite for growth however, encouragingly, these results show a much higher level of confidence and our desire to support these growth aspirations is why we recently launched our Growing Business initiative.

“The results also indicate businesses are looking to local markets more than others which is something we have seen in our own research. The importance of local customers and local suppliers is not to be underestimated. At the same time, the ease with which businesses can now access new customers and suppliers on a national or even global level, thanks to the internet, should not be ignored.

“Businesses are clearly not kidding themselves about the year ahead, while they can see opportunities for improvement; the expectation is that the economy will remain benign. That sanguine view is sensible and aids effective planning for the year ahead.”

STATE OF THE REGION 2013: DOWNLOAD AN IN-DEPTH REPORT OF THE FINDINGS HERE

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