Pressure grows to raise prices

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce

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Manufacturers are under pressure to raise prices as the cost of materials increases, a new survey has found.

According to the latest Quarterly Economic survey, compiled by the county’s Chambers of Commerce in association with Moore and Smalley Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors, companies have reported an improved picture in terms of domestic sales.

The survey was completed by over 270 Lancashire firms operating across all sectors of the economy.

Having slowed significantly in the previous quarter, the services sector has rebounded strongly, although it’s not yet back to levels seen at the start of 2016.

In the manufacturing sector, the percentage of firms reporting improved domestic sales remained broadly steady, while exporters once again saw an improvement in sales abroad mainly thanks to the fall in Sterling.

However, the survey also found that firms in both sectors, particularly in manufacturing, are facing pressure to raise prices, principally as a result of the cost of raw materials and other overheads.

The results from the Chambers of Commerce survey were revealed to an audience of local businesses at Preston’s College.

Stephen Gregson, corporate finance director at Moore and Smalley said: “In many respects the latest QES results hint at a positive recovery in confidence levels since the prior quarter. Those looking forward to Brexit might draw comfort from this; whilst those a little more concerned about the prospect would point out that it is still too early to tell.

“Nonetheless, when seen against the wider UK macro-economic backdrop, the QES suggests that perhaps there is a slightly greater level of confidence regarding our economic prospects in our part of the world. “

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber, added: “As we start 2017, businesses are continuing to trade through the uncertainty, and are looking to seize opportunities as they arise. The government must act strongly this year to support investment and improve the business environment.”