Peterborough bosses upbeat about jobs and wealth creation in face of Brexit

Paul Brown, of Grant Thornton, (left) with Ian Mather of Mills & Reeve.
Paul Brown, of Grant Thornton, (left) with Ian Mather of Mills & Reeve.
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Company bosses in Peterborough are shrugging off Brexit uncertainty as they focus on growing their businesses, jobs and profits.

Business leaders are optimistic about the future of the economy with most saying the referendum vote to leave the European Union has been a neutral or even positive impact on their business.

The upbeat verdict on the state of business in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire has been revealed in a poll of companies by financial and business advisers Grant Thornton with law firm Mills and Reeve.

The poll shows 65 per cent of companies expect profits to rise over the next 12 months and half anticipate taking on more employees. The remaining half expect head count to remain the same.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU, 65 per cent of firms questioned are confident about trading conditions. Some 72 per cent say the Brexit decision has had a neutral or even positive impact on their business.

However, only 34 per cent of businesses are planning to make significant capital expenditure during the coming year.

Paul Brown, director at Grant Thornton, said: “As Brexit moves closer, it is perhaps surprising to see such a benign response for the majority of businesses to the impact this will have.

“This probably reflects the strength of our local economy, as demonstrated by the £1 billion profits generated by Cambridgeshire Limited in 2016.”

When asked about the county’s key attributes, 77 per cent stated the entrepreneurial climate and 73 per cent cited the highly skilled workforce.

The poll has been carried out ahead of the launch of this year’s Cambridgeshire Limited, an annual study into the performance of the county’s 100 largest businesses.

Mr Brown said: “Last year’s Cambridgeshire Limited reflected the confidence we are still seeing with the county’s 100 largest firms investing heavily in new equipment, people and acquisitions.

He added: “Our launch poll suggests this investment is generating returns for local businesses as reflected by the predicted profit and staff increases over the next 12 months.”

Ian Mather, partner and head of Mills & Reeve’s Cambridge office, said: “Our county’s businesses clearly benefit from a thriving, innovative business sector, fuelled by a pool of talented, skilled people who can drive future growth.

“However, challenges remain. Inadequate infrastructure is still a real concern for local companies.”

The 2017 Cambridgeshire Limited results will be unveiled in Peterborough on December 7 at the Best Western Plus Peterborough Orton Hall Hotel and Spa.

For full details email Lindsey.L.Harley@uk.gt.com