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Lincolnshire businesses most optimistic since recession

Lincolnshire businesses are optimistic about their business prospects for 2014, according to the latest economic survey, with a majority of firms expecting an upturn in profitability, turnover and market share over the next 12 months.

The Lincolnshire Research Observatory survey undertaken in December 2013 indicates that a trend for profitability and improved performance is set to continue into 2014.

In Lincolnshire the survey is undertaken by Lincolnshire County Council on behalf of the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce and in partnership with the University of Lincoln.

The British Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey (QES), which takes a health check of Lincolnshire’s business economy every three months, shows that these key indicators of business sentiment have been improving throughout 2013.

Demand is increasing, with sales and orders in both export and particularly domestic markets buoyant. Some 45% of survey respondents said that their domestic sales improved last quarter– the highest percentages since 2009.

The number of businesses saying they expect profitability, turnover and market share to improve in 2014 out-weighed those who say it will worsen by over 30%.

Simon Beardsley, Chief Executive at the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Over the last year a growing number of Chamber members and county businesses have said they remain confident about future growth.

“More firms than ever before believe they can increase their turnover and sales, which is testament to their hard-work, creativity and ambition. But we must not get complacent, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that businesses are given the right trading conditions for long term sustainable growth.”

Results in the QES survey were particularly strong for the manufacturing sector and there was an upturn in the number of businesses investing in plant and machinery equipment.

Neil Corner, Director of Service at Siemens in Lincoln and a board member of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The results of the latest survey are very much in line with market sentiment.

“Growth is accelerating, and it is clear this is having a positive impact on business confidence. Manufacturing must continue to maintain output and make the necessary investment in infrastructure, R&D and skills and training to ensure that this positive trajectory continues.”

Cash flow problems experienced by many businesses also appear to be easing: for the first time in four years, the number of businesses reporting an improvement in cash flow outweighs the number saying cash flow worsened.

The Quarterly Economic Survey offers the first economic results of the quarter, published in advance of any other official figures or private surveys.

Professor David Rae from the Lincoln Business School at the University of Lincoln, said: “The latest results from the QES continue the trend of increasing business activity and confidence in future prospects which has become established over the past three quarters.

“This shows that Lincolnshire is in line with the national picture of a sustained recovery in trading conditions from the recession, which is most welcome.”