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KIRKLEES COMPANIES BUCK NATIONAL TREND; SURVEY OF 1,350 BUSINESSES SHOWS 33% reported a rise in sales 53% expect a rise in turnover.

Byline: HENRYK ZIENTEK

THE Kirklees economy is in recovery, according to an independent business survey.

While the debate rages over a possible double-dip recession for the UK, the survey showed that more than two-thirds of local firms have seen their turnover increase or remain static over the past 12 months.

Some 33% reported a rise in sales against 28% seeing a decline - giving a balance of plus 5%. In 2009, the same survey showed 24% had lifted turnover against 42% showing a fall - resulting in a balance of minus 18%.

The survey, commissioned by Kirklees Council and carried out by consultants Ecorys Survey, comes just after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned that the UK has already entered a period of recession due to stretch into the spring.

The study questioned 1,430 Kirklees businesses - just over one in 10 of all businesses in the district.

The council said the survey results suggest that the economy is recovering from the recession - albeit at the same slow pace as the rest of the UK.

The same survey two years ago showed that 43% of firms had seen a fall in turnover. This time, just 28% have experienced a decline.

In addition, some 53% of firms expect to see a rise in turnover in the next three years - with manufacturing, business services and wholesale sectors the most optimistic.

Looking at the efforts being made to combat climate change in the district, the survey has showed that fewer than half of firms - 40% - of firms have installed energy-efficiency measures to reduce energy costs and environmental impact.

Firms cited the general economic climate, lack of customers and competition as the biggest barriers to growth - with only 7% citing energy costs and just 5% complaining about skill shortages.

Companies said business support over grants, marketing and finance would bring the most benefits over the next 12 months. While most employers said they could meet their expansion plans on their current sites, a "small but noticeable" number said they needed extra space - with most keen to relocate within Kirklees.

The survey aims to increase local understanding of business needs.

Just over half of the firms who took part gave consent for their responses to be followed up by council officers and the council's partners and more than 800 have received letters about next steps.

During the next few months, talks will take place with the organisations about the issues the survey raised and the type of support they are seeking.

Clr Peter McBride, lead Cabinet member for regeneration, said: "The intelligence gathered from surveys like this is proving increasingly useful in the work we do with local businesses.

"It not only informs where we allocate resources to support organisations, but also enables officers to follow up on individual responses and issues."

He said: "Even with tight budgets, the council is keen to work closely with local firms, particularly to increase apprenticeships and training.

"Strategies such as our Local Development Framework are addressing land issues which are often a barrier to firms expanding in the area."

The full survey findings will be made available early next month. in early December.

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* STRATEGIES: Clr Peter McBride said the council was working with local firms
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 30, 2011
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