ST HELENS Chamber say there has been a "worrying picture" among manufacturing businesses in the latest economic quarterly survey while other businesses have shown a "surprising resilience".

The St Helens Chamber Economic Survey for the third quarter of 2019 has been released with firms asked for their views on how the UK leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement on October 31 would impact them.

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The survey found domestic sales dropped markedly for manufacturing firms over the last three months, as did UK advance orders. Export sales and advance orders contracted drastically, with more firms seeing a decrease in sales than an increase.

Meanwhile manufacturers reported a decrease in their workforce, although 40 per cent of firms did attempt to recruit last quarter.

However difficulties in finding skilled, technical staff are still proving a real barrier to recruiting, the Chamber has said.

However, businesses remain positive that they will see improvements and over the next three months both sectors intend to increase their workforce and +17 per cent of manufacturing firms believe that their turnover will improve over the next few months.

However this falls to a zero per cent increase in confidence about profitability increases.

St Helens Star:

St Helens Chamber's latest Economic Quarter Survey has been released

But +25 per cent of services firms believe their turnover will increase, and their confidence on profitability is +14 per cent. Meanwhile, 58 per cent of firms intend to grow their business over the next two years.

This quarter, the Chamber asked businesses for their views on the impact on their business of a potential UK exit from the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement.

In total, 40.2 per cent of respondents said “None”. A further 15.9% thought that the effect was “Unknown/uncertain”.

And 41.5 per cent of firms felt that the impact would be detrimental.

From manufacturers, the percentage expecting a detrimental impact to their business was 63.2 per cent.

St Helens Star:

Tracy Mawson

Tracy Mawson, deputy chief executive at St Helens Chamber, said: “The responses from manufacturing businesses paint a worrying picture this quarter. Manufacturers recruit large numbers of local people so their success is of utmost importance to our economy.

“This quarter we asked businesses for their views on how a no-deal Brexit on October 31 would affect their business.

“While the borough’s manufacturers, who tend to be larger firms and engage in import and export activities, uniformly showed that some detrimental effect to trading conditions was expected, there was a surprising resilience amongst other local businesses with 45 per cent of respondents citing they expect to suffer no impact.

“The key to minimising the impact of a no-deal situation is preparation, and it is encouraging to see firms taking the necessary steps to prepare themselves. Any businesses who have not yet taken steps to prepare for Brexit can get help from our Business Advisers.”