Lancashire business drop ‘may be a blip’

Confidence: Stephen Gregson
Confidence: Stephen Gregson
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After a strong start to 2014, Lancashire firms have found sales and orders much harder to come by in the third quarter, according to new figures.

The Quarterly Economic Survey – compiled by the county’s three Chambers of Commerce in association with Moore and Smalley Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors – shows that sales at home and abroad have weakened since the start of the year.

At that point, several key measures used in the QES reached record highs.

Despite weaker sales in Q3, more than half of the businesses surveyed are confident that turnover and profitability will improve in the year ahead.

A further sign of business confidence was the news that 37 per cent of firms expect their workforce numbers to increase over the next three months as businesses gear up for the festive season.

Stephen Gregson, Corporate Finance Director at Preston-based Moore and Smalley, added: “It may be tempting to read the latest QES results as hinting at a weakening in the levels of business confidence across our region.

“But scratch beneath the surface and the picture becomes less clear – and arguably more positive.

“Our recovery has been cautious to date and this looks likely to continue. Such a set of circumstances allows scope for some quarters to see decline.”

He added: “It is hoped that these will be ‘blips’ – and there are signs within the survey results which hint at this possibly being the case.”

The Q3 2014 Survey was conducted by the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, the Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce East Lancashire, in conjunction with Moore & Smalley Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors.