Posted by

Mark Goldstone, Head of Policy and Business Representation at West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce

20 Jul 2015

Proof, if it was needed, that our region is not immune to global economic issues is reflected in the latest findings across West & North Yorkshire, which present a mixed view. Following a very positive start to 2015, we report slower growth and contracting export sales across the manufacturing sector in the quarter just ended. As seems to be the case every week at the moment, we await the outcome of further Eurozone negotiations following the Greek ‘no’ vote in their recent referendum. However those negotiations progress, it is unlikely to be the end of the matter, and the impact on the wider European economy (collectively our largest export market) may well be significant.

Continued slow growth in world trade, China structural reforms and the appreciation of Sterling against both the Euro and the Dollar (factors largely beyond our control) all appear to be conspiring to dampen confidence and trade within the manufacturing sector.

On the positive side, the region’s service sector continues to perform well domestically and internal markets remain strong. Leeds is a particular hot spot, with confidence surpassing last quarter’s decade peak, to set a new 11 year high. Within the service sector, Bradford companies reported their third consecutive quarter of export growth, and in what appears to be a contradiction, it is the logistics sector setting the pace.

The pace of job creation slowed slightly over the last three months across all sectors. Despite this there was an increase in the number of manufacturers reporting recruitment difficulties; with nearly two thirds (65%) saying they faced challenges in the last quarter. The Chamber is working closely with our manufacturing members to create UTC Leeds a new University Technical College for the region which opens in September 2016 focusing on advanced manufacturing and engineering and whilst this will not solve the challenges of finding skilled staff it is a step in the right direction.

With the distraction of a general election now out of the way and the country returning a government with a mandate to make bold decisions we would encourage the Chancellor to follow through on his ambitions to make the Northern Powerhouse a reality. Investment in infrastructure is a fundamental building block to this goal and, with strategic procurement, could support many Yorkshire companies’ balance sheets.