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Economic outlook improving - Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce

19 October 2023
The Business Magazine article image for: Economic outlook improving - Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce
Steve Harcourt (left) with Corin Crane

The economic outlook in Coventry and Warwickshire has improved dramatically, according to a survey of businesses in the region.

The latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce shows a jump in confidence in both the manufacturing and services sector, leading to a stronger outlook for the economy.

The survey, which is delivered in partnership with Prime Accountants Group, is analysed by the Economy & Skills Group at Warwickshire County Council. From the responses of businesses across the services and manufacturing sector, it gives scores out of 100 where anything above 50 is positive and below is negative.

Read more: Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce says economy still not 'on track' after latest GDP figures released

The economic outlook now sits at 62.3 following the third quarter survey – up from 50.6 in the second quarter of year, which is a considerable rise. The manufacturing sector saw the biggest leap, from 52.7 up to 71.5.

Both domestically and internationally, manufacturers in Coventry and Warwickshire have seen a strong improvement in sales, moving from 55.9 to 72.9 on the home front and from 57.7 to 70.5 in the overseas market.

The service sector has also seen a rise, if less dramatic, from 48.5 to 54.5 domestically and from 45.2 to 55.7 internationally.

The survey suggests more jobs are set to be created in the region, with both sectors reporting a need to recruit while investment and cashflow have also seen an uptick in the past three months.

It all adds up to much more confidence being shown by the businesses who took part in the survey, which is both a barometer for the regional economy and is also fed into the British Chambers of Commerce’s national survey.

In the service sector, the confidence levels have moved from 58.0 to 61.3 and, in manufacturing, the score has reached 72.5 having previously been at 60.3 in the last quarter.

Steve Harcourt, director of Prime Accountants and vice president of the Chamber – who will be a panellist at the Chamber’s Annual Economic Conference on November 10, said: “It is great to see such a bounce back in confidence among Chamber members – this is, more than likely, due to the fact that inflation is coming down from its peak and firms feel that they can start to plan for the future.

“Coventry and Warwickshire businesses have proved to be extremely resilient over the past three or four years, in the face of unprecedented events which have led to growing uncertainty.

“That is why our economy in the region has remained pretty stable but, what we’d like to see now, is a real drive for growth and this latest survey suggests that could be a possibility in the not-too-distant future.”

Corin Crane, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “I don’t think anyone is suggesting that we are out of the woods when it comes to the number of issues facing companies across our patch.

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“Inflation is starting to fall – but it’s still way above target – and interest rates are still much higher than the record lows we’ve seen in recent years.

“It’s still incredibly difficult for firms to attract the skilled staff they need to be able to grow and that is something we are working with partners to look to address in the short, medium and long term.

“All that said, this is a very positive QES for the third quarter of 2023 and I hope we can build on this sentiment and start to see some serious growth in our economy in the coming years and, crucially, that it has a meaningful impact on communities across the whole of Coventry and Warwickshire.”

Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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