Results tagged “UK economy” from Birmingham Post - Business Blog

The retail industry is having a bumper time of things right now, with spending on the high street, in stores and malls, and on line up by around 7% since a year ago. That's the fastest rate of growth for ten years.

A decade ago, Tony Blair was Prime minister, the EU enlarged to include ten new states, and Arsenal won the Premier League at a canter without being beaten. And the Bank of England - concerned over the strength of consumer spending and inflationary pressures - raised official interest rates. By August of that year they had reached 4.75%.

The much-vaunted 'March of the Makers' may well have stumbled last year (manufacturing output actually fell by 0.6% in 2013) but is finally moving again, and at a decent enough rate for now at least. That recovery is getting moving thanks to more stable conditions in the Eurozone - still the UK's biggest trading partner - and rising consumer demand at home.

It is against this better picture that more firms are planning to take on workers, according to a survey by the manufacturing body EEF and accountancy firm BDO. A balance of 31% of manufacturers stated that they planned to take on more staff in the next three months, the highest figure since 2000, with car manufacturing and the electrical sector leading the way. And a balance of 34% of firms stated that they planned to increase investment in the coming quarter, also a record high.

Jonathan Duck, Amtico's Chief Executive, is proud of the part that the Coventry-based company is playing in rebalancing the UK economy.

As brand leaders in the 'luxury vinyl tile' market, the company has 20% global market share and sales of over £120m.

He says, "We came out of Courtaulds in 1995, as a management buyout, having built this whole market segment in the 60's,70's and 80's. In 2012 we became part of Mannington Mills, a much larger US based flooring company, with great long term vision and the ability to fully invest behind Amtico. As a result, we've recently doubled our manufacturing capacity through a £6m investment in a new production line, so now we're Coventry's largest company actually making things in the city, employing 300 people in the UK and 600 worldwide. This latest investment shows both our commitment to UK manufacturing and the strength and confidence we have in our product."

Households are pulling money out of their savings accounts at the fastest rate in recent times, according to recent Bank of England figures. It is perhaps the most telling sign yet that Brits are paying for the rising cost of living by raiding their piggy banks.

Over the last year, families have withdrawn £23bn from their long-term savings accounts to convert into cash and also put into current accounts - that's around £900 for every household in the country.

Analysis of the Bank's figures by Sky News shows that in the year to October, the amount of cash in notice deposit accounts and cash ISAs fell by 4.7%, while the amount families have in their instant access current accounts or in cash rose by 11.2%, or £71bn.

The British economy is thankfully on the up. But that doesn't mean George Osborne was right in arguing that 'Plan A' is working. Rather, the performance of the British economy since Osborne became Chancellor back in May 2010 has been pretty dire. The economy has grown by just 2.2% since then. And remember that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) reckoned that the economy would have grown by over 8% by now. Some record.

In fact, this is the slowest recovery ever. The UK's GDP is still over 3% below where it was back in 2008. It is correct to say that the labour market has performed better than many expected (myself included). That's because firms have hoarded labour and productivity has dipped - not really something for Osborne to write home about.

Business authors

David Bailey

David Bailey - Professor of Industrial Strategy at the Aston Business School, Birmingham
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Stuart Pemble

Stuart Pemble - Construction Lawyer, Mills & Reeve
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John Clancy

John Clancy - Birmingham City Councillor and director of and
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John Samuels

John Samuels - Professor of Business Finance, Birmingham Business School
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Chris Tomlinson

Chris Tomlinson - Chris Tomlinson is the founder of social media and online PR agency Friend (
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Andrew Whitehead

Andrew Whitehead - Senior partner at law firm SGH Martineau, leading the firm's Energy & Climate Change practice.
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Keith Gabriel

Keith Gabriel - A Birmingham-based PR Account Manager
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Beverley Nielsen

Beverley Nielsen - Lecturer, Design Management, at the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, BCU
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Mike Loftus

Mike Loftus - Director of News from the Future Ltd. Writing on the trials of setting up your own business
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Richard Halstead

Richard Halstead - Midlands region director for EEF, the manufacturers organisation.
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Karl Edge

Karl Edge - partner at KPMG in Birmingham, specialising in automotive, manufacturing and house building sectors.
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Peter Owen

Peter Owen - Managing director for construction firm Willmott Dixon Midlands.
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Dr Steven McCabe

Dr Steven McCabe - director of research degrees for Birmingham City Business School.
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Francis Greene

Francis Greene - Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, at the University of Birmingham.
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Alan Gilmour

Alan Gilmour - Director at Cogent Elliott, experienced in marketing, brand development and customer relationship management.
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Paul Noon

Paul Noon - Paul Noon, OBE, West Midlands International Trade Director at UK Trade & Investment.
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