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Suffolk Chamber’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey shows county’s firms in positive mood

PUBLISHED: 06:09 13 October 2017

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.
Picture: Suffolk Chamber

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. Picture: Suffolk Chamber

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Suffolk businesses have reported stronger sales, orders and employment during the third quarter of the year, with the county’s manufacturers seeing a particular improvement.

The latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) from Suffolk Chamber of Commerce shows that the balance of manufacturing firms reporting an increase in domestic sales over those seeing a decrease rose from plus 12% during the second quarter to plus 26% in the three months to the end of September while the balance among services firms improved from plus 19% to plus 25%.

It was a similar picture for new domestic orders, with the balance for Suffolk manufacturers jumping from plus 7% to plus 33% and for service sector firms from plus 10% to plus 21%.

The figures feed into to national and regional surveys compiled by British Chambers of Commerce, with manufacturers and services firms in Suffolk both out-performing the East of England as a whole during the third quarter in terms of domestic sales and domestic orders.

The balance of Suffolk manufacturers reporting an increase in overseas sales rose more modestly, from plus 27% to plus 29%, and that for services firms from plus 8% to plus 9%

And while the county’s manufacturers saw the balance for new overseas orders rise from plus 24% to plus 33%, the figure for service sector firms dipped from 8% in the second quarter to 2%.

The balance of firms recruiting more staff rose from plus 18% to plus 29% among manufacturers and from plus 11% to plus 18% for service sector companies.

However, there were slight declines in the balance of Suffolk businesses forecasting a future improvement in turnover and profitability, although both figures remain positive.

John Dugmore, Suffolk Chamber’s chief executive, said: “These figures show that Suffolk plc is performing well across many of its core market sectors. This is great news and a testimony to the ceaseless entrepreneurial spirit of Suffolk’s business community, including taking speedy advantage of macro factors such as comparatively benevolent exchange rates.

““Suffolk Chamber is pleased to have be playing a role in supporting businesses, especially those looking to export through our documentation service and to break into new markets via our many country specific workshops.”

However, Mr Dugmore also highlighted concerns revealed in the survey that many exporters and importers have about future exchange rate fluctuations.

“It shows how vital it is that the government gets the Brexit negotiations just right, including a transitional period to allow companies to adapt to any new trading arrangements,” he added.

A total of 165 Suffolk firms responded to the survey, with analysis of the replies being provided by Suffolk Knowledge, part of Suffolk County Council.

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