East Anglia: Region’s export growth boosts business confidence

STRONG export growth, and the expectation of more to come, has helped keep business confidence in the East of England above the national average, according to a new survey.

The latest UK Business Confidence Monitor report compiled by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and business advice firm Grant Thornton records an index score of plus 3.6 for business confidence in the eastern region.

Although marginally down on the previous quarter, the figure is 2.5 above the national index score of plus 1.1, with sentiment buoyed by 5.3% growth in the region’s export sales in the last 12 months and expectations of a further increase over the coming year.

Firms in the region expect overall turnover to rise by 3.9% in the next year, with domestic sales growth of 3.2% again being out-paced by exports.

Pippa Bourne, East of England regional director for ICAEW, said the findings were encouraging, in the context of the recession, with the export figures in particular showing that many businesses were looking to the future positively.

“The East of England is the fourth largest exporting region and contributed 6.8% to the nation’s total overseas sales in Q1 2012 so exports will play an important role in the region’s economic prospects,” she added.

Malcolm Gomersall, regional managing partner at Grant Thornton East Anglia, said: “The data confirms that businesses in the East of England are making a significant contribution to the export-led recovery.

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“Unlike a few years ago, there are now relatively few business leaders who can afford to focus solely on the domestic market if they want their enterprises to grow in the current environment.”