Glenn Bemment, regional director for North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking
North West business confidence has bounced back after a low in February, to become one of the most confident regions in the UK, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
Business confidence in the North West rose to 39% in March, eight points higher than last month’s reading of 31%t, and the third highest in Britain behind London and the West Midlands.
Companies in the North West reported higher confidence in their business prospects at 47%, yet lower economic optimism at 31%.
Across the region, a net balance of 17% of businesses said they felt that the UK’s exit from the European Union was having a positive impact on their expectations for business activity, up 16 points on a month ago.
Firms’ hiring intentions showed that a net balance of 30% of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year, up three points on last month.
Nationally, overall confidence fell one point to 32%, driven by a dip in firms’ economic optimism.
The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.
Glenn Bemment, regional director for North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s encouraging to see that businesses are finishing the first quarter of 2018 feeling optimistic about the year ahead, and particularly about their own business prospects.
“Together with the fact that North West firms are the most confident in the UK about the effect leaving the EU is having on business, that shows that businesses are brushing off uncertainty and are ready to seize the opportunities facing them.”
Overall confidence in March was strongest in the transport and manufacturing sectors, at 55% and 49% respectively.
Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “While firms’ confidence in their business prospects improved slightly in March, overall business confidence was held back by a fall in economic optimism.
“Recent progress on the Brexit negotiations has reduced uncertainty, which could continue to support business confidence going forward. The risk of rising global protectionism, however, is a growing concern.”
Our BQ Bulletin emails will land in your inbox at 7.30am, Monday to Friday, with a mix of the latest local business news, national news, and features to inspire you. Sign up here!
Click here to read our privacy statement