(left to right): Dave Ayton-Hill, Hazel Pilling, Ajay Desai, Suren Thiru
The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and Warwickshire County Council held an Economic Outlook event at the Billesley Manor Hotel in Alcester to present the most recent Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) results and to dig down into the numbers.
The QES showed that business confidence had dropped slightly compared to the previous three months but that it was still much better than the national picture.
The event heard from Suren Thiru, Head of Economics and Business Finance at the British Chambers of Commerce, and Dave Ayton-Hill, Economy & Skills Group Manager at Warwickshire County Council.
Thiru said the UK economy had been treading water since 2016 and that the 0.2 per cent growth rate in the first quarter of this year was the weakest since 2012.
He said the BCC’s forecasts – based on an orderly Brexit – were for weak growth in the next few years and that they should act as a ‘wake-up call’ to Government.
But Ayton-Hill said the economy in Coventry and Warwickshire was the fastest growing in the country and was bucking the national trend.
He said: “The figures in this area are very positive and are above the national average.
“Despite there being very real national concerns, the confidence in Coventry and Warwickshire is very high and we know that confidence means companies are more likely to invest.
“Brexit concerns are starting to increase particularly among those companies who export but the mood remains positive.
“Why? Automotive manufacturing, including Jaguar Land Rover and its supply chain – as well as other inward investment – is a strong factor but we’ve also seen growth in logistics and tourism.
“But even if you took out automotive, the region would still be performing well as an economy.
“So despite a great deal of uncertainty on a national and global scale, there are huge opportunities to build on here in Coventry and Warwickshire.”
A panel discussion looked at some of the barriers to growth in the hospitality sector, particularly around skills and a shortage of people moving into the industry.
Ajay Desai, Trade Director at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is great to see Coventry and Warwickshire bucking the trend and I see on a day-to-day basis that companies continue to seek new opportunities to trade overseas.
“The message to the Government has to be that while Brexit dominates the agenda there is plenty that can be done on the domestic front to support business growth.”