Exeter Chamber survey points to weak jobs growth but improving sales
Businesses in Exeter remain cautious about hiring despite an upturn in sales, according to the latest poll of Chamber of Commerce members.
The Exeter Business Survey for the quarter ending in March found just 26 per cent of firms had taken on new staff, the lowest figure since December 2011.
Just over a quarter of companies expect to recruit new employees in the near future, while seven per cent plan to reduce the size of their workforce.
On a brighter note, the proportion of respondents reporting an increase in sales was up from 46 to 52 per cent. Profit margins have stabilised since September last year.
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The number of companies with a pay freeze in force increased by five per cent to 35 per cent.
Derek Phillips, vice president of Exeter Chamber of Commerce, said: “These figures were largely collated before the Budget announcement and show a mixed picture for the city. Chamber hopes that the initiatives in the Budget will encourage businesses to take on additional staff.”
The survey of Exeter Chamber members is collated to identify the current economic conditions for the city and its sub-region. The results were reported to the Bank of England’s South West agent yesterday.
Local businesses attending the panel meeting included Vospers and Signs Express.
There was good news from Vospers, the car dealers on Marsh Barton, who reported a substantial increase in sales.
Managing director Nick Vosper said: “We have had a fantastic start to 2013 and are hopeful that sales will continue to be strong. Exeter has performed particularly well in January and February, achieving a 23 per cent increase in sales year on year.”
Nick Baxter-Sibley, managing director of Signs Express, said: “After a strong 2012, the first quarter of 2013 has been particularly buoyant with a very high level of enquiries and orders.”