Confidence amongst Northamptonshire’s businesses is robust with the majority expecting to increase profits, investment and staff levels over the next 12 months, according to a new survey from business advisers, Grant Thornton.
The confidence poll has been conducted to mark the launch of Northamptonshire Ltd 2016, Grant Thornton’s annual in-depth analysis of the performance of the county’s top 100 businesses.
The study has become a recognised barometer of the overall health of Northamptonshire’s economy and for the first time since its launch in 2013, the report will also include a focus on the county’s fastest growing businesses plus those which are likely to make the top 100 next year in a ‘ones to watch’ section.
Results of the preliminary confidence poll reveal that more than half (57.1%) of Northamptonshire businesses expect to increase profits over the next 12 months, while a further 65.7% anticipate taking on more staff and almost 60% are likely or very likely to make significant capital expenditure over the same period. This is despite 40% stating that business conditions are a little more difficult than a year ago.
Strong performance by largest firms
Commenting on the poll findings, Mike Hughes, from Grant Thornton’s Northampton office who is co-hosting Northamptonshire Ltd 2016, said: “Last year’s Northamptonshire Ltd results showed a strong performance by the county’s largest firms which collectively achieved a higher rate of growth than the UK economy as a whole.
“The findings of our initial confidence poll bode well for the 2016 study results with Northamptonshire firms clearly upbeat about their future prospects as the local economy continues to strengthen."
However, a lack of skilled talent remains a key concern for the county’s businesses with more than two thirds (68.6%) stating there isn’t sufficient talent available locally when recruiting. Transport and infrastructure (34.3%), the availability of funding (31.4%) and limited supply of commercial property (31.4%) were also cited as barriers to growth.
Mr Hughes continued: “As a business grows so does its demand for the right skilled people to take the company forward. As the recruitment market becomes more competitive, there simply isn’t enough talent to go round resulting in the skills gap we are seeing across the county and the rest of the UK.
“To win the battle for skilled staff, Northamptonshire businesses need to look at how they can best incentivise their people in terms of wages and employment conditions and also how they can grow their own talent within the business.”
The results of the Northamptonshire Ltd 2016 study will be unveiled at a breakfast briefing, hosted by Grant Thornton in association with NEP, on Thursday 19 May at Northampton Saints Rugby Club. This year’s event will feature a Q&A session with a panel of local business leaders.
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