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Phil Smith of Business West

Swindon and Wiltshire business continues to grow – report

More than half of businesses in Swindon and Wiltshire reported an increase in sales in the first quarter of 2014, according to a survey by Business West.

The Quarterly Economic Survey, which polled 126 firms in the county as part of the British Chambers of Commerce national survey, found that UK sales continued to increase for 58 percent of local companies – up eight points – with 46 percent reporting increased orders.

Meanwhile, export sales were up for 41 percent of firms, as were export orders.

Almost a third (29 percent) recorded an increase in their current workforce – a rise of two points on the last quarter.

Forecasts were also positive, with 36 percent of respondents expecting their workforce to grow over the next three months – a 12 point increase.

Competition (40 percent) and taxation (30 percent) remained the biggest concerns to businesses in comparison to three months ago, up by six points and five points respectively.

And the biggest barriers to growth were listed as low cost competition (13 percent), fuel costs (11 percent) and broadband connectivity (11 percent).

Sixty nine percent of businesses said they expected turnover to increase in the next 12 months, which is down two points from last quarter.

However, two thirds of businesses expect their profitability to increase over the same period, up three points.

The mixed view is reflected in business confidence which stands at 70 percent – consistent with the position three months ago.

Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, said: “After a year of recovery in 2013, results from the first quarter of this year tell us that the market remains upbeat in Swindon and Wiltshire.

“With a budget that demonstrated the government’s continued recognition of the importance and benefit of increasing exports, we encourage firms in the area to harness these opportunities in the coming months to expand on the work of last year.”

“However, it is not all good news, with a moderate decrease in firms expecting turnover to increase in the next year and business confidence remaining constant over the last three months.

“The government must build on the measures announced in the budget to ensure that businesses have the confidence to invest, export and expand over the next year and continue to provide support for businesses, both large and small, to enable the recovery to continue.”