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Surveys point to more jobs

Scottish firms remain optimistic and plan recruitment drive

Scottish exportsBusiness remains largely optimistic for the rest of the year with firms saying they intend to hire more workers.

Evidence from the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) suggests 73.9% of Scottish private sector businesses expect turnover to grow over the next 12 months, a year-on-year increase of 10 percentage points (from 64% in Q1 2014).

The improved market outlook will lead to a recruitment drive, it says, It expects a similarly significant rise in Scottish companies planning to employ more staff, up from 44% this time last year to 54.3% now.

Overall confidence in the Scottish market remains high, with just 2.2% of businesses surveyed expressing pessimism at the future, compared to 10% a year ago.

Improving export performance is a key factor, with the IBR reporting a slight quarterly increase in the number of Scottish businesses expecting to increase exports, from 20.4% to 21.7%. The number expecting to have to cut selling prices has also reduced in the last three months to just 4.3% of businesses.

Kevin Engel, managing partner for Grant Thornton in Scotland, said: “The underlying performance of the Scottish business community is strong and there are clearly opportunities for growth, not least via export markets.

“Many companies are making big decisions about their future and this kind of data helps to inform investment strategies. We should expect the private sector to continue this upward trajectory and that should have a knock-on effect in the labour market.”

A British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) quarterly economic survey is a little less bullish, reporting “somewhat weaker” activity in most areas, including exports, domestic markets and investment.

John Longworth, director-general of the BCC, said it was “not a huge surprise” to see slightly weaker numbers after a strong final quarter last year. Businesses expect to grow at a somewhat slower rate in the coming months, he said, though most ­remain optimistic.

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