QES 2011 Quarter 1 Results
An online survey was sent to NICC members, and was completed by 329 respondents. The survey took place between 24th February and 11th March 2011. The results are compiled in the following report.
On balance, the findings from the Q1 2011 survey show that business activity in Northern Ireland appears to be operating at a similar level to the previous quarter. Respondents were more likely to report that sales remained constant (41%) than to decrease (28%) or increase (26%). This is slightly less positive than the findings of the previous quarter when 36% reported an increase in sales.
In terms of export sales (outside the UK) there appears to be a slight positive trend since Q3 2010. Approximately one in ten of those surveyed would be interested in developing into markets outside Northern Ireland (62% already export outside this market). However lack of management resource and the refinement of their product or service to the new market are the main barriers to this happening.
Workforce and recruitment
One in five (20%) have increased their workforce in the last three months, down from 25% last quarter. However the percentage who have reduced their workforce has decreased from 17% in Q4 2010 to 14% in Q1 2011. Looking forward is slightly more optimistic with 23% planning to increase their workforce in the next three months, while 10% are planning a reduction in employment levels. Two in five businesses have tried to recruit staff in the last quarter, with 62% saying that this was for full-time roles. Of these 42% have experienced difficulty in finding suitable staff, with finding professional/managerial staff creating the greatest problem.
The full report can be downloaded below:
There is a slight positive trend in relation to cash flow with 20% saying it had improved compared with 13% in Q3 and 17% in Q4 2010.
Investment in training and equipment
There was a marginal difference in terms of plans for investing in training between Q4 2010 and Q1 2011; 22% felt it would increase, 50% thought it would remain the same, and 16% said it would decrease. There was a slight positive difference in terms of planned investment in plant and equipment between Q1 2011 and Q4 2010. Eighteen percent thought it would increase, 37% said it would remain the same, and 21% felt it would decrease.
One quarter (25%) believe that their turnover will decrease over the next 12 month. This is similar to the findings from Q4 2010. However one half (50%) expect to see an increase in sales. Forty three percent expect to see in increase in profitability. Just less than one third (31%) are operating at full capacity; up from 25% in Q4 2010. In terms of pricing 30% plan to increase their prices in the next three months compared to 14% who expect to decrease them.
Business pressuresRelated Files QES Report - Q1 2011
The types of business pressures that are more likely to be a concern than three months ago are competition (43%), inflation (38%) and interest rates (29%).