Scotland business

Construction firms end 2014 on high

Bricklayer Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Construction firms reported a rise in work not seen since 2007

The construction industry experienced an "extremely successful" end to last year, according to a business survey.

Firms reported an increase in contracts, investment and work in progress in the final months of 2014.

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce survey found the number of construction firms experiencing a rise in work in progress was at its highest since 2007.

Firms reporting an increase in public sector contracts also rose and investment levels hit a 10-year-high.

Almost 500 firms in construction, financial and business services, manufacturing, retail and wholesale and tourism responded to the quarterly survey, carried out in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde's Fraser of Allander Institute.

Business confidence among construction firms had increased, while almost 40% of firms increased wages over the quarter.

Manufacturing also experienced a successful quarter with employment and investment levels staying strong despite a slowdown in orders.

Retail and wholesale businesses reported an increase in sales for the first time in 2014 during the final three months of the year.

Image copyright Glasgow City Marketing Bureau
Image caption Big events such as the Commonwealth Games boosted tourism during 2014

Meanwhile, business confidence among tourism firms increased compared with the same quarter in 2013.

Liz Cameron, director and chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: "Strong performance from 2014 has helped Scottish businesses get off to a great start in 2015.

"With investment levels high across all sectors, there is much to look forward to as businesses seek to continue this impressive growth.

"Scotland's year in the spotlight added a spring to our step but strong performances have not been limited to the tourism industry.

"Construction, in particular, has experienced remarkable growth, with investment levels at a 10-year high and outperforming other sectors in this quarter."

Economic plan

Scotland Office minister David Mundell said the survey was further evidence that the UK's economic plan was working.

"Going into 2015 Scotland's economy is expected to grow and build on two successive years of economic growth," he said.

"This shows the conditions are being created for businesses to expand and they are benefiting from the large single domestic market, shared currency and economic stability which comes from being part of the UK."

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the survey underlined the strength of Scotland's economy.

"The construction sector recorded a particularly robust performance in Q4 2014, with strong readings for private and public sector contracts, boosting optimism and seeing the reading for investment levels in the sector reach a 10-year high," he said.

"Meanwhile in manufacturing, positive trends were reported in orders, employment, and investment.

"Moving into 2015, these positive trends look set to continue as business optimism across sectors was positive heading into the new year, along with expectations for new business and exports."

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