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East Anglia: Business confidence on the rise, ICAEW/Grant Thornton study shows

PUBLISHED: 13:59 15 January 2014 | UPDATED: 16:18 15 January 2014

Philippa Bourne, East of England regional director for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

Philippa Bourne, East of England regional director for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

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The UK’s economic recovery is being reflected in increased confidence levels among businesses in the East of England, a new survey suggests.

According to the latest ICAEW/Grant Thornton UK Business Confidence Monitor, business confidence within the region now registers on the survey index at plus 25.9, up from plus 6.7 this time last year.

However, although confidence in the region has been on a general upward trend since the third quarter of 2012, it still remains slightly below the UK national average of plus 31.7.

During the past quarter, firms in the region reported a 4.9% uptick in annual turnover growth, well up compared with 2.6% a year go, and this trend is expected to continue with growth predicted to rise by 5.2% over the coming 12 months.

Companies also saw sales volumes and gross profits grow by 4.2% and 4.3% respectively over the previous year, a strong performance which is also expected to continue over the next year with forecast growth of 4.9% for sales volumes and 3.8% for gross profits.

Businesses reported exports increasing year-on year by 5.6%, following a general upward trend from just 1.7% in the first quarter of 2013, and a further strong increase of 5.0% is predicted for the year ahead.

This is broadly in line with expectations for domestic sales which are projected to rise by 4.9% over the coming year. suggesting a balanced recovery with demand from both domestic and overseas markets. Philippa Bourne, East of England regional director for ICAEW (the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales), said: “This quarter’s report shows that the UK economic recovery is well underway.

“If it continues at this rate, the UK economy will be one of the fastest growing economies in the western world in 2014. However, we cannot be complacent and all of us need work hard to maintain the momentum built up this year.”

Paul Naylor, practice leader for Grant Thornton in Cambridge, added: “These figures reflect a tangible upsurge in confidence that we have seen in the East of England and provide a very encouraging start to the new year.

“All efforts must now be focused on nurturing this growth to ensure the region, and the UK as a whole, maintains these positive recovery levels.”

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