East Mids manufacturers geared up to invest

Credit: Shutterstock.com/ SasinTipchai

The number of businesses in the East Midlands mulling investments in new machinery has almost doubled in the first three months of 2018 compared with the latter end of 2017.

In the first quarter of this year, the number of firms reporting plans to increase investment in plant jumped to net 42%, according to the results of the first East Midlands Chamber Quarterly Economic Survey.

In the final three months of 2017 only net 23% of firms reported plans to increase investment.

Chris Hobson, Director of Policy at the Chamber, said: “Business hates uncertainty and the country has gone through a long period of upheaval with two general elections and the EU referendum in the past three years.

“The Brexit vote was followed by a lot of doubt about the UK’s future relationship with the EU, which remains today the UK’s largest single market for export.

“But business is also extremely robust and has an uncanny knack of sifting through the negativity to seize opportunities, and there can be no doubt that those opportunities exist.

“Those businesses already exporting, for example, were very quick to ramp up production when the value of sterling fell immediately after the Brexit vote, making UK-branded products cheaper on world markets.

“With a period of relative stability since the General Election last year and with the various assurances that have been emerging from the Brexit negotiations, businesses have shown they are beginning to believe in a future beyond the EU and to invest for that future.

“A week after the survey closed, the Government and the EU announced agreement over a two-year transition period following Brexit day, which effectively now gives firms three years to secure a return on investment in plant, premises and people.”

The results of the East Midlands Chamber Quarterly Economic Surveys feed into national data collated by the British Chambers of Commerce which is then used to advise Government and shape policy.

Professor Zoe Radnor, Dean at the University of Leicester School of Business, which is sponsoring the East Midlands Chamber Quarterly Economic Surveys this year, said: “Our work with the Chamber aims to create a clearer picture of the local economy.

“Having greater certainty of the future allows confidence to grow and it is encouraging to see that regional businesses are increasingly optimistic about the future and are considering investing in their facilities.”