The poll has been conducted to kick off Northamptonshire Limited 2017, Grant Thornton’s annual health check of the local economy which looks at how the top 100 businesses in the county are performing.
Results of the launch survey show that 82% of Northamptonshire businesses questioned expect profits to increase or stay the same over the coming year.
Meanwhile, more than half (51%) of businesses anticipate investing in more staff with just 8% expecting to decrease headcount. This is despite 44% stating that business conditions are more difficult than this time last year.
Mike Hughes (pictured), of Grant Thornton’s Northampton office, said: “Last year’s Northamptonshire Limited results showed the county’s largest businesses were in good health, with strong increases in turnover, profitability and employment.
"While a lot has changed in the past 12 months – from Brexit to the new US President – the findings from our initial poll suggest Northamptonshire businesses are upbeat about the year ahead.
“When asked about the county’s key strengths, firms clearly highlighted Northamptonshire’s strong transport infrastructure and business community which provides an essential, solid foundation for growth.
"This sets the scene for another strong performance in this year’s Northamptonshire Limited report.”
However, local businesses still face ongoing issues, the most pressing of which is the skills shortage which remains a key concern for the county’s firms.
Almost four in five businesses said there is insufficient local talent available when recruiting while a further 85% believe the talent gap is the main barrier to Northamptonshire’s economic progress.
Mr Hughes said: “Many businesses here in Northamptonshire are on a strong growth trajectory and are looking for the right people to help take their company forward.
"However, in an increasingly competitive recruitment market, they are being held back by an ongoing battle for talent.
“The introduction of the new Apprenticeship Levy in April to help upskill employees for low cost was a step in the right direction. But firms need to ensure they maintain a competitive edge by offering strong incentive packages which can focus on non-monetary benefits, and look at how they can grow talent within their business.”
Grant Thornton’s Northamptonshire Limited study has become a recognised benchmark of the overall strength of the county’s economy.
In addition to the annual analysis of the largest privately owned businesses, this year’s report will highlight the performance of the county’s largest 20 businesses, including a number of well-known brands.
The results of Northamptonshire Limited 2017 will be unveiled at a breakfast briefing, hosted by Grant Thornton, on May 18 at Northampton Saints Rugby Club.