Business confidence in the South West has reached its highest level yet in 2023.
According to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank confidence rose 12 points during August to 46%, the highest reading since February 2022.
Companies in the South West reported higher confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, up two points at 49%. When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, up 23 points to 43%, this gives a headline confidence reading of 46%, according to the barometer.
South West businesses identified their top target areas for growth in the next six months as introducing new technology (31%), diversifying into new markets (30%) and investing in teams (29%). A net balance of 35% of businesses in the region expect to reduce staff levels over the next year, down three points on last month.
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Amanda Dorel, regional director for the South West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s great to see confidence in the region rebounding to reach the highest levels we’ve seen in 18 months. Businesses are making hay while the sun is shining too, with many taking advantage of buoyed consumer spirits and looking at opportunities to grow, be it by investing in their teams or diversifying into new areas.
“Those who continue manage their working capital and keep a close eye tight margins will be well positioned for the coming months.”
The Business Barometer, which surveys 1,200 businesses monthly, provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.
Overall UK business confidence increased to its highest level since February last year, jumping 10 points to 41% in August. All 11 regions and nations reported a positive business confidence reading in August, with nine regions and nations reporting a higher confidence reading month-on-month.
Businesses in London reported the highest levels of business confidence at 52%, its strongest reading in 14 months. Firms in the South East reported the second highest reading at 47%, followed by those in the South West.
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