South Wales Chamber of Commerce: Welsh firms' profits optimism
Businesses are growing increasingly confident about the Welsh economy with many expecting to increase profits and employ more staff, said a survey.
But the South Wales Chamber of Commerce (SWCC) report also found that Welsh exports were not keeping up with other parts of the UK.
It is the first time the regular survey by the chamber has included details for businesses across the whole of Wales.
The figures are based on 660 responses from 1,200 members.
The survey, for the first quarter of 2014, suggested 61% of businesses expected to be more profitable in the next 12 months, with the remainder expecting to maintain current profit levels.
SWCC director Graham Morgan said there were "growth opportunities" for Welsh businesses.
However, there are concerns after export sales for services in Wales fell to 17%, below the UK average of 38%.
Other figures for Wales showed:
- 95% of businesses are looking to retain their existing workforce or recruit in the next three months
- 53% experienced difficulties in recruiting during the last quarter
- Of businesses trading in UK markets, 87% said sales increased or were maintained
- Businesses in Cardiff (55.7%) and Newport (50.9%) saw the largest increases in sales, and were above the Welsh average of 49.7%
- Of businesses trading internationally, 85% said sales and orders either remained consistent or increased
- Manufacturing export sales increased in Wales to 37%, compared to a UK average of 40%
Despite the relative confidence of businesses that took part in the survey, Mr Morgan, said more should be done to ensure Wales did not lag behind the UK for exports.
He said: "While export sales and orders in Wales remain at a similar level to quarter four of 2013, it appears that Wales is not benefiting from the same progress in international markets as other chambers are reporting throughout the UK.
"There are many Welsh businesses with excellent products and services, and it is vital that they are aware of the support available to help them increase their international footprint.
"We have regularly called for the professional sector, namely bankers and accountants, who should have in-depth knowledge of their clients' capacity for growth, to help Welsh businesses access new markets.
"If the professional sector can help highlight the support available to businesses looking to begin or grow exporting services, in both a financial and advisory capacity, then Wales can start to become a big player on the world stage."
He said it was the biggest response so far to the survey, which includes businesses in north Wales now, and the chamber felt "confident in the growth opportunities that lie ahead for Welsh businesses".
"However, as always, there is more work to be done and, if the economic recovery is to truly take hold, then there is no room for complacency," he added.
Peter Lewis, managing director of Newport-based manufacturer Industrial Automation and Control, added: "It's been tough the last year but we're quoting more now than we have for many, many years.
"We just want big businesses to start spending the money they've got tucked away."