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North East businesses battling rollercoaster of confidence and stress


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It sometimes seems that the way business leaders here feel about their progress changes month by month and the latest figures are not good news.

Business confidence in the North East fell 10 points during April to 46 per cent, even though the region’s firms were still the third most confident in the UK, according to the Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the North East reported lower confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, down 11 points at 56 per cent.

When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, down nine points to 37per cent, this gives a headline confidence reading of 46 per cent (vs. 56 per cent in March).

North East businesses identified their top target areas for growth in the next six months as investing in their team, including hiring new staff and investing in training (44 per cent), entering new markets (42 per cent) and evolving their offering with new products and services (34 per cent).

A net balance of 43 per cent of businesses in the region also expect to increase staff levels over the next year, down 16 points on last month.

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Martyn Kendrick, regional director for the North East at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “While its disappointing to see business confidence fall in the North East, the region’s firms are still the third most confident in the UK and have a lot to look forward to.

“Take the recent plans submitted by Britishvolt. If approved, the manufacturer’s new Northumberland site could trigger £10bn of investment for the local area and create thousands of jobs.

“It’s also encouraging to see that more firms in the North East are planning to enter new markets. This is an effective growth strategy and the conversations we’re having with local businesses show they are increasingly exploring opportunities at home, across the UK, and internationally.

“We will continue to be by the side of businesses across the North East as they overcome challenges and seek new opportunities for growth.”

Overall UK business confidence held steady at 42 per cent in April, the same level as recorded in March and February.

While firms’ confidence in their own prospects dipped marginally by four points to 45 pr cent, their confidence in the economy rose by four points to 39 per cent. Meanwhile, the net balance of companies planning to increase staff levels over the coming 12 months climbed six points to 33%.

The East of England was the most confident UK nation or region in April (56 per cent), followed by the Wales (51 per cent) and the North East.

The Business Barometer, which surveys 1,200 businesses monthly, provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

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