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Black Country Chamber of Commerce urges local manufacturers to enter export markets

Paul Bennett, Partner George Green LLP and Immediate Past President of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, presented the quarter 3 Quarterly Economic Survey results on Tuesday 23rd September to a packed audience of Alliance 4 the Black Country members.

The results show that for Black Country manufacturers the three months to August 2014; 8% more of the respondents had experienced a reduction in UK sales and 11% more had experienced a reduction in export sales. Orders too have fallen: for UK orders by 26% and export orders by 21%.

The services sector reported a small (4%) increase in UK sales and a modest (7%) increase in export sales.

Commenting on these results Paul Bennett, who also sits on the Government Advisory Board for International Trade, said, “Black Country manufacturers are worryingly reliant on the UK for sales and even that market seems to be declining. We strongly encourage our manufacturers, particularly those who offer niche services and low volume delivery, to explore overseas markets. The Chamber is partnering with the Black Country Growth Hub and UK Trade and Investment to deliver an enhanced model which means that virtually any small or medium sized business can engage with experienced experts who will help the company win new business.

“Although we are ahead of the three year trend, there has been a fourfold increase in the number of manufacturing companies reducing the size of their workforce.”

 In response to declining export figures Richard Jenkins, Director, RBS Corporate Banking said “The on-going economic trends within Europe and geopolitical instability elsewhere is increasing risk associated with exporting and that does have an effect on financial products such as invoice discounting.”

The survey figure shows that although business confidence is higher for both, investment is down for manufacturers and profitability expectations are deteriorating for both sectors. In response to the results Richard Jenkins said “Energy costs are worrying businesses and having an impact on profitability expectations,” and in response to the increasing concern about interest rate rises he said “in reality, it is cheaper to borrow. However, it is a more convenient media headline to blame banks for wider economic issues.”

Commenting on the survey results, Black Country Chamber of Commerce President, Ninder Johal said, “We have too many Black Country businesses operating at reduced capacity at a time when export markets can take up the slack. Neither manufacturers nor service sector companies are expecting to increase their workforce over the next three months. We need bold strategic leadership from our businesses in order to make the first move. We as a Chamber of Commerce can support Black Country businesses by supplying export expertise, opportunities to develop strategic leadership skills and impartial advice on selecting the right financial products.”

A snap poll was undertaken at the breakfast event and showed that 83% of the audience thought that the Labour party initiative to increase the minimum wage to £8 would have no effect on the head count of their businesses. 72% of the audience thought that if devolution was brought to the English regions it would be better at a Midlands level rather than West Midlands (11%) or Black Country (17%).

Last modified on Monday, 29 September 2014 16:16
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