The confidence survey has been conducted to mark the launch of Bedfordshire Limited 2016, Grant Thornton’s annual in-depth analysis of the performance of the county’s 100 largest businesses which has become a recognised barometer of the overall health of the local economy.
Results of the poll reveal that over 80% of Bedfordshire businesses questioned expect profits to increase or stay the same during the next 12 months, while 50% are likely to make significant capital investment and 45% plan to invest in new talent over the same period.
This is despite 38% of respondents believing business conditions are slightly more difficult than this time last year.
Steve White pictured, of Grant Thornton’s Milton Keynes office who is leading the Bedfordshire Limited 2016 report, said: “Last year’s Bedfordshire Limited study showed businesses across the county performed extremely well with a significant increase in profits which many used to pay down debts and invest in new staff.
“Despite some uncertainty about business conditions as the economy continues its tentative recovery, the findings of our initial poll suggest confidence remains strong and many companies are reaping the rewards of last year’s growth through further investment.
“This bodes well for another strong performance when the Bedfordshire Limited 2016 results are unveiled on Thursday.”
When asked to identify the main challenges to Bedfordshire’s economic progress, three quarters stated insufficient local talent when recruiting to take their business forward, while a third said limited supply of commercial property and a further third felt lack of government support for businesses was a key issue.
Mr White said:: “Bedfordshire business have some clear concerns about the county’s ability to support future business growth with the key issue being availability of skilled staff. While this is not an issue unique to Bedfordshire, as businesses continue to grow the demand for talent will only increase further.
“With excellent transport links to the rest of the UK and a strong business community, Bedfordshire businesses are well placed to deal with this problem.
"But they will need to ensure they continue to invest and incentivise staff to develop existing talent within the business and attract new, skilled people.”
The results of the Bedfordshire Ltd 2016 study will be revealed at a breakfast event attended by local business leaders at The Sculpture Gallery, Woburn Abbey.
In addition to the annual financial analysis covering aspects such as operating profit, employment figures and a detailed breakdown by sector, the Bedfordshire Limited study will also identify the county’s fastest growing businesses and include a ‘ones to watch’ section, highlighting those companies which may make the top 100 next year.