‘Positive start’ to the year for key sectors

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Manufacturing and service sector businesses have enjoyed a positive start to 2014 thanks toa growth in UK sales and orders, according to the latest results from The Lancashire Quarterly Economic Survey.

The new survey shows that 46 per cent of firms saw their domestic sales increase in the first quarter of this year – six percent up on the previous quarter and a 15 per cent improvement on the same period last year.

The positive sales figures were supported by improvements in other key areas, particularly employment, with 34 per cent of businesses reporting an increase in their workforce levels in the first three months of the year.

One third of businesses in the survey also expect to increase workforce levels in the next quarter period. Both sectors also saw their capital and training investment plans revised upwards.

The picture was not quite so buoyant for overseas trade.

After a strong 2013 the manufacturing export sales balance had its biggest quarterly fall in two years.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Our survey supports the OBR forecasts that UK economy is likely to see further growth in Quarter One.”

She added: “If we are to stimulate great growth, particularly among fast growing, small and mid-sized companies who are the vanguard of an entrepreneurial economy, we need the creation of a properly functioning business bank, a better developed retail SME bond market and properly resourced support for exporting – both export promotion and export finance.”