‘Keep calm and carry on’ as Energy Estuary strikes a strong, positive note in second quarter
“KEEP calm and carry on . . . that’s our best advice at the moment following the dramatic decision by the British people to leave the EU.
Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce’s Chief Executive, Dr Ian Kelly, said: “This quarter’s figures provided just before the Referendum result are very positive for the Humber, although there are now various issues on the political front which are obviously causing some uncertainty.
“Following the historic vote on June 23rd, this uncertainty has to be added to the business mix, but at the moment little appears to be going to change overnight.
“The fall of the Pound is helping many local exporters which could and should build on the steady export progress noted in the last quarter and as they identify new opportunities which may emerge going forwards.
The Humber is fortunate that businesses have also performed well in the home market over the last three months. However, we must ensure going forward we are well placed to secure our share of public investment, be that through Devolution and the Northern Powerhouse, or through private sector investment opportunities in Renewables and our Energy Estuary”.
The Hull & Humber Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey results saw a reversal of the of the downward trend witnessed in the home market in the first quarter of the year, and an improvement in Quarter 4’s results for 2015 in similar key areas.
Leading the improvements this time was the exports sector, with exports showing strong increases, closely followed by home sales and orders sectors which showed strong improvements.
The balance figure for export sales changed from – 16 in Quarter 1 of this year, to +11 in Quarter 2, a turnaround of 27 points, while the balance figure for Export orders also made a strong recover, rising from –26 in Quarter 1 to regain positive territory at +6, a strong increase of 32 points.
The balance figure for Home sales also made a strong increase, rising from +5 in Quarter 1 to +26 in Quarter 2, up 25 points, while Home orders saw a more modest rise from +7 to +12 points, thanks to nine per cent more firms reporting an increase in sales.
There was more good news in the employment sector, with 12% more firms reporting that they had recruited new staff in the last quarter, which saw the balance figure rise by nine points, back into positive territory at +9.
Those firms planning a recruitment drive in the next three months remained steady when compared to the last few quarters’ results, but did see a modest rise in the balance figure of three per cent.
Of those firms which responded to the survey, 70% said they had recruited staff. There was a rise in in those companies trying to fill full time positions of nine percent, while those trying to fill part-time roles was down by 11 per cent.
There were more temporary jobs on offer this time around, up by 11 per cent, and fewer permanent positions on offer, down markedly dropping by 19 per cent.
Difficulties in recruiting the right staff is still an issue in the Humber, with 56 per cent, an increase of 12% on the last quarter, reporting problems. Of those, part-time and permanent positions were easier to fill, but full time and temporary jobs were proving to be more challenging. Management positions proved easier to fill this quarter, but Clerical positions were more challenging, while skilled and semi-skilled roles saw little change.
In the last quarter, 27 per cent of firms reported that their cashflow was up, and there was also a five point increase in the those reporting consistency, and plans to invest were also on the up, with 10 per cent more firms more firms putting plans in place, a move which saw the balance figure increase by 19 points.
Staff training plans also saw an increase, the balance figure rising by 19 points on the back of six per cent more firms putting plans in place.
There were also rising profit expectations for the next three month, with 12 per cent more firms expecting to see an increase, pushing the balance figure up by 24 points, perhaps reflecting that more firms were working at full capacity this quarter than in the previous one.
The biggest price pressure was raw material costs and business finance, while concerns over interest rates, exchange rates, business rates and inflation and tax were all up.
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