Almost 60 per cent of businesses responding to the survey reported improved performance during the last 12 months with 45 per cent expecting to invest in more staff or capital projects this year. About a third expect to be requiring larger premises within the next five years.
Prospects look good with 60 per cent of respondents expecting continued improvement in profitability over the next 12 months, despite expected increased operating costs.
The survey, jointly organised between city accountancy firm Rawlinsons and economic development company Opportunity Peterborough, was designed to test the economic temperature of the water specifically in Greater Peterborough rather than Cambridgeshire as a whole.
Just over 180 businesses responded to the survey questions across a broad range of sectors with financial services and construction performing the best.
The biggest challenge facing businesses seems to be the availability of skilled workers, with 37 per cent of all respondents focusing on this as their main obstacle to growth. Predictably, the others were price pressure from customers and competitors, and rising overheads and utility costs.
“This is our third annual survey, and so we are starting to build a longer term picture of what local businesses are saying. This latest survey shows that business performance in Peterborough continues to be strong and expectations for the next 12 months are quietly encouraging without being overly optimistic. Start-ups are reporting good results and most sectors are experiencing continued growth,” said Mark Jackson, Partner at Rawlinsons.
“As with previous years, access to a skilled workforce continues to be a major priority for local companies, and with almost half of respondents expecting to see an increase in staffing levels this year, it’s vital there is appropriate support to recruit talent that meets business needs. Our Skills Service is doing valuable work to boost the employability skills of young people in the city, but of course, there is still more to be done,” said Steve Bowyer, Chief Executive at Opportunity Peterborough.
“It is also encouraging to see over half of respondents indicating they would welcome support to increase their operational efficiency through improved processes, more effective use of resources and better leveraging of technology. Working closely with our partner organisations, we are exploring ways of closing any gaps created by the demise of the Growth Accelerator and Manufacturing Advisory Service as we continue to help businesses take advantage of support that is available,” added Steve.