Export sales and orders are up for businesses across the Sheffield City Region, although business conditions remain extremely tough, according to the British Chambers of Commerce.
The Chambers’ latest quarterly economic survey shows that while profitability and turnover was good in the final quarter of 2012, it had reduced significantly compared with the previous quarter.
Cashflow continued to be a major issue for businesses and local businesses’ expectations of creating new jobs have been lowered.
UK sales and orders remained positive for the region’s firms, but at a consistent low level, while investment in machinery and training remained steady.
Indications are that the region’s performance was ahead of the national average, which revealed a decline in most indicators across both manufacturing and services in the last quarter, with expectations for the coming three months significantly weaker than the minimal growth in the previous three months.
While Sheffield Chamber executive director Richard Wright welcomed the export boost for the region, Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber executive director Andrew Deniff said the overall results of the British Chambers’ survey gave cause for concern.
Richard Wright said: “It is positive to see exports being increased for businesses as we see this as key to generating real wealth for the city region, and is in line with activity in our International Trade department.
“In this area we are slightly better than the national results.
“However, the survey also highlights how tough the climate is for business. Companies doing well show a lot of similarities in that they have invested consistently in developing products relevant to the current and future international markets.
“It is critically important to have something that differentiates you from the rest.
“Quality and price are almost a given and therefore product differentiation via performance, design and service are increasingly important.”
Andrew Denniff added: “The results of the latest survey are a cause for concern and point towards a difficult start to the new year.
“A recession is not a foregone conclusion. However, action is needed urgently to tackle short-term issues and a lack of business confidence, damaged by the ongoing Eurozone crisis.
“A slowdown across Europe is inevitable, but we need not suffer a similar fate. Britain’s economy is at a critical stage - radical decisions are needed to inspire confidence and increased investment for years to come.”