As housebuilders forecast growth...
Scottish business confidence ‘among highest in G7’
Scotland’s businesses remain optimistic about their future growth plans, despite increasing political and economic uncertainty, according to the research from Grant Thornton.
Quarterly data from the leading business and financial adviser reveals more than half of Scottish business leaders questioned are confident about the country’s economy over the next 12 months.
The research for Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR), involved more than 2,500 companies in 36 economies.
However, while macro-economic expectations remain high, there are some signs that increasing political uncertainty is leading companies to take a more cautious approach to future investments.
The research reveals only 34% of Scottish companies plan to increase headcount in the coming year – 10% lower than last quarter and 19% down on 2015. Meanwhile, only 11% expect exports to increase, despite recent currency fluctuations meaning favourable conditions for Scottish exporters.
Debbie Mayor (pictured), head of international at Grant Thornton in Scotland, said: “The latest set of data provides some reassurance during a time of great uncertainty. Businesses in Scotland remain resilient and focused on driving forward their growth ambitions.”
> Housebuilders are forecasting increased growth and investment, according to the second annual Lloyds Banking Group Commercial Banking report on the UK housebuilding sector.
The report is the first in-depth study of the sector following the decision to leave the European Union.
Although over a third of firms (36%) said that the uncertainty following the EU referendum result is the biggest challenge to their business, the industry is relatively optimistic; planning to grow, invest and create jobs.
However almost a third (30%) of firms said there are not enough skilled workers in the industry, with bricklayers, electricians, plumbers and joiners being the hardest to recruit. This shows a slight improvement from the 2015 survey from 35%.
Pete Flockhart, head of Housebuilder at Bank of Scotland, said: “Given the challenges that housebuilders face, the sector is painting a relatively optimistic picture, with improved growth and investment forecasts compared with last year’s survey.”
Karen Campbell, director of policy at industry body, Homes for Scotland, said: “Notwithstanding clear challenges surrounding skills and the planning system, the survey findings paint a welcome picture of optimism in the industry with builders keen to grow their businesses and build more much-needed homes.”