Business output growth in the North West slower than average

Martyn Kendrick
Martyn Kendrick
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Growth of business activity in the North West was the strongest since September 2014 in April.

But the latest expansion posted below the UK average.

Business activity growth in the North West accelerated to a seven-month high in April.

Martyn Kendrick

Meanwhile, new business rose at a sharp pace, albeit the weakest in three months.

In contrast, employment levels rose at a faster rate that was in line with the UK-wide trend. On the price front, input prices rose for the first time since November 2014, although at a marginal rate.

The seasonally adjusted Lloyds Bank North West Business Activity Index posted at 57.0 in April, up from 56.7 in March, thereby signalling stronger growth in output in the North West region.

The latest reading was the highest since September last year. However, the rate of expansion was slower than the UK average for the seventh month in a row.

Commenting on the survey, Martyn Kendrick, area director for SME Banking in the North West, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said:

“Business activity growth in the North West accelerated to a seven-month high in April.

“However, for the seventh straight month, output growth in the North West was slower than the UK average. In contrast, employment levels rose at a quicker rate that was in line with the UK as a whole.

The price of goods and services declined for the second time this year so far, as survey respondents mentioned lower raw material costs and increased competition driving down selling prices.”

A rise in overall activity was matched by a marked increase in new orders at private sector firms in the North West. Survey respondents mentioned improved marketing strategies, stronger client demand and new product launches as the principal factors behind the latest expansion.

However, growth eased to the weakest in three months and was slower than the UK average.

Private sector firms in the North West hired additional staff in April. Firms linked employment growth to higher workloads and prospects for future activity growth. Furthermore, the latest increase was in line with the UK average.

Subsequently, volumes of unfinished work were depleted in April, extending the current trend to three months.

Cost pressures were evident at North West private sector companies in April, as input prices rose for the first time since November 2014.

However, the rate of inflation was only modest and slower than the UK as a whole.