Optimism hits new high in City Region

Paul Houghton, partner at the Sheffield office of Grant Thornton
Paul Houghton, partner at the Sheffield office of Grant Thornton
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Business leaders in the Sheffield region are twice as optimistic about future prospects than they were a year ago, according to business advisers and accountants Grant Thornton.

The annual survey, which focuses purely on the Sheffield City Region, also shows business leaders believe investment and finance will be far more available in 2014.

However, concerns about the difficulty of recruiting people with the right skills and costs are similar to last year, with more than a third thinking both will hold their businesses back in the coming year.

Grant Thornton partner and Sheffield City region Local Enterprise Partnership board member Paul Houghton said: “Key indicators of confidence among Sheffield’s business leaders have improved greatly since the 2012 survey.

“In many aspects Sheffield business leaders are almost twice as bullish about the prospects for 2014, and that augurs well for investment, job creation and a ripple effect into the wider regional economy.

“It is encouraging to see such a strong resurgence of business confidence, with job prospects in the region looking more positive and businesses starting to seriously consider investment in growth rather than simply treading water.

“However, there still seems to be some disparity between the regional and the national picture.”

While the percentage of respondents who believe local economic conditions have improved year on year rose from 32 per cent to 60 per cent, it was still significantly below the number who believe the UK economy as a whole has improved.

Almost nine out of 10 respondents believe market demand will increase in 2014, while more than seven out of 10 believe profits will rise and more than six out of 10 predict an easing of cash flow.

The proportion of business leaders who thought capital investment would increase has shot up again and the prospects for job creation have also improved.

The percentage expecting jobs to be created this year has risen from 46 per cent last year to 67 per cent.