Business activity rises amidst Brexit uncertainty

Whilst London saw a slight slowdown, business activity rose across all UK regions in November, led by strong growth in the North West of England and Wales.

According to the latest Lloyds Bank Regional Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), expansion across all regions of the UK suggests economic growth continued in the fourth quarter, but London slipped slightly to 55.6 points, down from 56.3 in October.

The North West’s business activity index – a measure that tracks changes in total output across the manufacturing and service sectors – showed the strongest growth with an increase to 58.5 in November, its highest reading in over three years. Wales saw a further rise in business activity after growth reached a nine-month high in October of 58.3.

Other strong performances were recorded in the East of England (57.3) and East Midlands (56.0), with the latter seeing growth accelerate to a three-month high.

Last month’s ICAEW Business Confidence Monitor also shows that, whilst UK plc is struggling to find confidence, there are some reasons to be cheerful with companies seeing improvements in profit growth, capital investment and sales volumes, and showing expectations of continuing growth in 2018.

“While businesses are struggling to be confident in the current environment, there are reasons to be more optimistic. Businesses are controlling costs and there is finally some improvement, though small, in export sales growth. The IT, Construction and Business Services sector are all modestly positive. Even the retail sector has seen an improvement in confidence – albeit still in negative territory.

“These findings highlight the cliff edge that the UK economy is on at the moment. Businesses to some extent know that uncertainty is to be expected due to Brexit but they must again see good reason to invest in technology, training and development, as well as new products and services to help drive economic growth in 2018 and beyond.”

In this volatile economic landscape, it is essential that UK SME business owners maintain effective management of their company’s working capital and put processes in place to survive and thrive in challenging times.

Get in touch with our specialist advisers at Beavis Morgan for guidance and strategic advice to help in formulating plans for your business in order to strengthen its prospects of success, achieve growth and maximise wealth.

For further information, contact Steve Govey or your usual Beavis Morgan Partner.