Suffolk: Chamber survey reveals growing optimism among manufacturers

Suffolk Chamber president Peter Funnell

Suffolk Chamber president Peter Funnell - Credit: Archant

MANUFACTURING in Suffolk is outstripping the performance of the sector across the UK as a whole, according to new figures.

But the improvement in sentiment within the services sector in the county has been less marked compared with the national picture, the latest Suffolk Chamber of Commerce survey reveals.

The first Suffolk Chamber quarterly survey of 2013 shows manufacturers their most optimistic since the summer of 2007, before the credit crunch and subsequent recession set in, although they remain concerned about business rates and the outlook for exchange rates.

Confidence within the services sector has taken a knock, however, following a dip in orders during the first three months of the year, although the sector remains cautiously optimistic about prospects for the current quarter.

“The latest report from firms across Suffolk continues to provide real reasons for optimism,” said Peter Funnell, president of Suffolk Chamber. “As the results for the last five or six quarters have shown, the local economy is moving forward but the economic recovery is yet to genuinely take off.

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“When we see both the manufacturers and the service sector making real progress together for two quarters or more then we will know the recovery is really under way.

“One good news story beginning to emerge consistently is the progress being made by our exporters. This is the year of the chamber’s ‘Exporting is good for Suffolk’ campaign and the results of our surveys show that we have some good solid foundations to build on in the year ahead,” said Dr Funnell.

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“It is really heartening to see the consistent and improving performance of manufacturers in Suffolk, both in domestic markets and abroad.

“Local manufacturers across many indicators are doing better than the sector nationally. This is particularly true for exporters where export orders are now running at an all time high level.”

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber, added: “The last 12-18 months have been a hard slog for UK firms. In Suffolk too there have been set backs at various times but, if nothing else, our surveys demonstrate the continued resilience shown by local firms.

“We continue to see positive signs but we are still struggling to find that consistent and robust growth across the whole economy. That is why we continually challenge the Chancellor to find ways of facilitating and supporting enterprises.

“We need to do more to nurture our wealth creators. It remains crucial for local firms to see positive moves from local and national government to maintain confidence. This includes continued actions on skills, infrastructure and business financing,” he said.

The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce survey was conducted in early March, with the results being analysed by a research team at Suffolk County Council.

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