Brighter picture for Norfolk economy

Norfolk's economy is showing gradual signs of recovery, according to a new survey of the region's companies.Research by Norfolk Chamber of Commerce found that manufacturers are increasing domestic sales, but the export market remains difficult.

Norfolk's economy is showing gradual signs of recovery, according to a new survey of the region's companies.

Research by Norfolk Chamber of Commerce found that manufacturers are increasing domestic sales, but the export market remains difficult.

The pattern is repeated in the service sector, with firms finding it easier to sell at home rather than abroad.

Some 248 chamber members from across Norfolk took part in the research, which forms part of the British Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey.


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The survey is used by the Bank of England and Chancellor Gordon Brown as a snapshot of the health of the UK's economy.

To compile the figures the percentage of firms showing an improved performance is subtracted from those showing a worse performance to give an overall plus or minus balance.

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The figures cover the third quarter of the year, from July to September.

In Norfolk a positive balance of 19pc of service sector companies reported an increase in sales, but the figure dropped to just 5pc for future orders.

Among manufacturing companies domestic sales showed a positive balance of 4pc, but future orders remained negative at minus 6pc.

The export market is worse, with manufacturers showing a neutral balance on deliveries and a 12pc decrease in export orders, and there is a similar picture for service sector companies.

Firms are starting to recruit more, with a positive balance of 14pc of manufacturers and 16pc of service sector firms looking to take on more staff. More manufacturers and service sector companies are both planning to invest in machinery – a positive balance of 12pc of manufacturers against 15pc of service sector companies.

But the sectors differ in their attitude to training, with service sector firms planning to invest far more heavily than manufacturers.

Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said: "The economic outlook for business is tough, but it is good to see that Norfolk businesses are driving forward and in some areas are ahead of the overall Eastern region trend. The manu-facturing sector still has many challenges, with exports continuing to be difficult.

"It is important that Norfolk manufacturers ensure that they are making full use of the extensive support resources available to them through the chamber and Business Link, when researching a new market, accessing the right documentation or ensuring their staff are fully trained to meet the demands of the marketplace.

"Employment figures reconfirm what we all know that many manufacturing companies are struggling to get the workforce they need. It is good to note businesses are looking to improve on their investments, but the figures are still low against levels recorded in 2002.

"The investment in people is a topic discussed a great deal in Norfolk. This survey reconfirms that there is considerable work to be done to encourage companies to invest in training," Mrs Williams added.

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