Clare Burnett

Member Article

Yorkshire reactions to national GDP growth: cautious optimism or false hope?

2013 was the first year in which the economy grew in all four quarters since 2007. In the fourth quarter of 2013 the headline GDP growth rate was 0.7%, following two consecutive quarters of 0.8%.

Growth is broad based with all sectors, except construction, growing by between 0.7 and 0.9%. Manufacturing grew fastest at 0.9%; services grew by 0.8%. Construction was down 0.3% on the quarter but is up 4.5% on the year.

That’s all well and good, but what does this mean in real terms for Yorkshire?

Dominic Beck, External Affairs Executive at Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce said: “The quarter 4 GDP figures for 2013 confirm what we hope was the year where the foundations of sustainable and positive growth were laid for the national economy.

“As a Chamber we are certainly seeing signs of a tempered confidence towards better economic times and a slight loosening up of risk adverse business practice is occurring.

“We must however be mindful that within national GDP figures are regional variations and Yorkshire and Humber is still trailing in some key areas, particularly in all components of unemployment.

“We are confident that in 2014 even greater strides can be made to rebalancing the economy, creating more net jobs and delivering a more flexible and high skilled labour force.

“The businesses we represent from all sectors and of all sizes will be waiting in anticipation of the Chancellor’s Budget Statement in March for a genuine ‘budget for business’ which will set out a blueprint for growth and prosperity moving forward.”

Paul Mackie, President of Bradford Chamber of Commerce: “There is still some caution in the business community but an increasing shift in emphasis towards more favourable outlook.

“That’s manageable as long as they can keep bringing in the orders and manage cashflow.

“Things are looking more positive this year than they were last but there’s still some way to go before we can all relax – if ever we can. We’ll be looking to government to provide more measures that increase stability, a framework for growth and an even more positive outlook in months to come.”

Mark Chesworth, Managing Director at Vivergo Fuels in Hull:

“At Vivergo Fuels, we are proud to support the Humber’s ambition to be recognised as the UK’s Energy Estuary.

“Our £350m renewable energy business, located near Hull, produces valuable commodities that the UK would usually import – bioethanol, a cleaner transport fuel and protein rich animal feed.

“As one of Europe’s largest producers of bioethanol and a major UK animal feed supplier, our business supports over 1000 jobs.

“We directly employ around 80 highly skilled positions and we’re continuing our recruitment activity to fill a number of key engineering, commercial, finance, HR and production roles.

“We’re very confident in our business and the role it plays in the continued economic growth of the UK.

“We look forward to working further with the UK Government to drive the development of our industry and the significant potential it offers for future growth in investment, jobs and skills creating a solid future for UK renewable energy and manufacturing.”

Mark Robson, Regional Director for UKTI Yorkshire and the Humber said: “We saw some positive growth in the value of regional exports during 2013, and we are confident that upwards trend can be sustained in the new financial year ahead.

“More and more local businesses are exploring opportunities in global markets, and UKTI is providing is best ever packages of support to help them fulfil their undoubted potential.

“Our prime focus for the year ahead is two-fold. We want to reach out to ambitious entrepreneurs and SMEs, some of whom will be taking their first steps in the world of international trade. We also want to support thriving mid size businesses as they penetrate wider and deeper in their respective sectors.

“We have a decent mix of both across the region, and they all have the skills, products, services and expertise to win the global race.”

on Wright, CEO at Leeds-based Xercise4Less said: “Xercise4Less is going through a period of rapid expansion with a roll out plan to have a group of 100 clubs nationwide throughout the UK by 2016. Over that time we will be creating a minimum of 40 jobs per site along with expanding our Head Office Team.

“2013 was a very exciting year for us, which saw an investment from The Business Growth Fund of £5m and a partnership with Tesco, that have allowed us to accelerate our growth.

“In 2013 we doubled the size of the business from 7 clubs to 14 and we aim to get to 45 clubs in 2014.

“To put the confidence which we are seeing as a business in context, we originally had the plan to have 40 clubs by 2016 and our business plan now stands at opening 100 clubs in the same period.

“Initially we were focused on growing our business throughout the Yorkshire and the North regions of the UK, however we are pleased to be now opening throughout the UK in cities such as Swansea, Bristol, Sunderland, Newcastle and a planned launch in Scotland in the Spring.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Clare Burnett .

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