Companies in the region reported higher confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, up four points to 48 per cent. When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, down one point to 43 per cent, this gives a headline confidence reading of 45 per cent.
County businesses reported plans to target new growth opportunities in the next six months, including diversifying into new markets (50 per cent), evolving their offering (41 per cent) and investing in their teams (39 per cent).
A net balance of almost half (49 per cent) of North West businesses expect to increase staff levels over the next year, up three points on last month.
Overall UK business confidence dropped 11 points during March to 33 per cent. Martyn Kendrick, regional director for the North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s encouraging to see that North West businesses are staying resilient in the face of the current geo-political and financial situation, which is creating a constantly evolving economic backdrop. There is still appetite for growth, and clear ambition from firms to tap into new markets to build their presence.”
From a sector perspective the impact of the war in Ukraine appears to have had the greatest impact on UK manufacturing and retail firms. Both sectors saw drops in confidence of 19 per ecnt from February’s highs (to 35 per cent and 28 per cent respectively).