Warwickshire is leading the country in business growth – in the face of national uncertainty for future trading conditions.
Coventry and Warwickshire have suffered a drop in business confidence over the Spring, as managers think twice about investment amidst Brexit and trade tariff uncertainty.
But the region can maintain its trade growth in the UK by tackling barriers to business, Coventry and Warwickshire’s Chamber of Commerce has said.
The Chamber and Warwickshire County Council held an Economic Outlook event at the Billesley Manor Hotel in Alcester last week, to look at economic analysis from the last business quarter.
Its Quarterly Economic Survey showed that business confidence dropped slightly compared to January – March. But the region’s optimism is well ahead of the national picture.
‘Economy treading water’
The event heard from Suren Thiru, Head of Economics and Business Finance at the British Chambers of Commerce, and Dave Ayton-Hill, Economy and Skills Group Manager at Warwickshire County Council.
Mr Thiru said the UK economy had been treading water since 2016 and that the 0.2 per cent growth rate in the first quarter of this year was the weakest since 2012.
He said the British Chamber’s forecasts – based on ‘an orderly Brexit’ – were for weak growth in the next few years and that they should act as a ‘wake-up call’ to Government.
But Ayton-Hill said the economy in Coventry and Warwickshire was the fastest growing in the country and was bucking the national trend.
He said: “The figures in this area are very positive and are above the national average.
“Despite there being very real national concerns, the confidence in Coventry and Warwickshire is very high and we know that confidence means companies are more likely to invest.
“Brexit concerns are starting to increase particularly among those companies who export but the mood remains positive.
“Why? Automotive manufacturing, including Jaguar Land Rover and its supply chain – as well as other inward investment – is a strong factor but we’ve also seen growth in logistics and tourism.
“But even if you took out automotive, the region would still be performing well as an economy.
“So despite a great deal of uncertainty on a national and global scale, there are huge opportunities to build on here in Coventry and Warwickshire.”
Our region bucking the trend
Ajay Desai, Trade Director at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is great to see Coventry and Warwickshire bucking the trend and I see on a day-to-day basis that companies continue to seek new opportunities to trade overseas.
“The message to the Government has to be that while Brexit dominates the agenda there is plenty that can be done on the domestic front to support business growth.”
Warwickshire has many strengths for business – a strong industrial heritage, transport links in the heart of England, and well educated workers leading hi-tech innovation.
Tom Mongan, General Manager of Nuneaton-based manufacturing company Subcon Laser – which employs 35 staff, said: “There are many reasons why I believe this region continues to buck the trend. We have an incredible location, with superb road, rail and air connectivity which is extremely attractive.
“And, while there is a wider issue around skills, we are blessed with a good level of skilled workers in this region due to the fantastic manufacturing heritage in Coventry and Warwickshire.
“From the major closures of bigger businesses in previous years, smaller companies have emerged in this sector and that has helped the region to keep those skills and, importantly, pass them on to the next generation.
“We are blessed with two fantastic universities – both of which understand and engage with business – alongside other institutions such as WMG and the MTC, as well as some outstanding businesses that are operating on the global stage such as Jaguar Land Rover, LEVC and MIRA .
“Our Chamber of Commerce is extremely proactive in the support it gives to businesses of all sizes and sectors which, again, helps companies to grow and thrive.
“And, finally, it’s a great place to live too, which is vital when attracting the best talent – with a host of world-class attractions on our doorstep, breath-taking countryside and the City of Culture right in the middle.”
Source: Coventry Telegraph