Kent Invicta is one of six Chambers in the South East that are accredited by British Chambers of Commerce.
It regularly contributes about 30% of the South East’s responses to the Quarterly Economic Survey, the largest UK survey of its kind, which is administered on behalf of the BCC by every accredited Chamber.
Given the ongoing Brexit uncertainty, it’s encouraging to see UK Sales and UK forward Orders mainly consolidating and with some growth.
Meanwhile, Export Sales and Export Orders continued volatile for some.
Cashflow continued its pattern of improvement so far this year. Only 19% reported worsening Cashflow in Q3, the healthiest figure for three years.
Members’ Pricing has been steadying all this year, as the shock of imported inflation gets absorbed and the pound gradually recovers.
Even so, expectations of Sales T/o were the lowest for a year and a half, with Profit expectations even less bullish.
NB Historically these 12-month expectations have always been higher than the Sales and Profits actually achieved. They show a trend in confidence levels, not outcomes.
Both recent Employment and Employment expectations were steady. Such consolidation at a time of healthy sales may well indicate caution due to Brexit uncertainty, not just the usual ongoing difficulty in finding appropriately skilled staff.
The recent recovery in Q2 in planned Training spend fell back to its previous cautious level – even more so, the planned spending on Kit (less flexible to deploy or to shed than Labour). This implies a likelihood of near-stagnant productivity levels, just as across the UK as a whole.
Caution is also apparent in the proportion of respondents trying to hire staff – only 57%, the lowest since 2014. This weak demand for new hires still left 8 in 10 reporting hard-to-find skillsets, especially Professional/managerial and Skilled manual/technical.
Pressures on Pricing continued to ease, maybe due to the strengthening pound. Even so, Inflation re-emerged as ‘of greater Concern’.
To read the findings in full click here.