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[ 16-04-2009 ]

Scottish Chambers of Commerce have today (Thursday) released their Business Survey results for the first quarter of 2009. The survey, conducted in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, points to a difficult year ahead for Scottish businesses with weak demand and continued pressures on profits and margins.  However some positive indications exist for the future of our manufacturing and tourist sectors, along with a reminder that skills provision remains a key priority for the future.

Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Scottish business confidence has been battered over the past year and our latest survey reveals that, on the surface, there seem to be few signs of improvement in the short term.  However in the midst of the current recession, we are all looking for signs of light at the end of the tunnel and a closer examination of the figures does reveal that in some sectors the rate of decline is easing, with a small number of businesses performing well against a challenging background.”

“A positive feature is that Scottish manufacturers are anticipating a modest rise in export activity by this time next year, raising hopes that our exporters may be helping lead the Scottish economy from recession and into growth.  The background of a weak pound on the currency markets may be a boost for exporters in the medium term, but this will only produce results when our export markets begin to see increased business and consumer optimism, and the benefits of the weak pound have to be balanced against increased costs of imported raw materials.”

“Similarly there is further potential for recovery in our tourist sector, where occupancy levels remain on a par with previous years and businesses are looking forward to increasing demand over the spring and summer in this Year of Homecoming.  A dry summer would assist greatly in marketing Scotland’s attractions as a tourist destination especially with globally significant events such as the Open golf championship taking place in Scotland.”

“Of concern in this survey is the downward trend in investment in training.  With business cash flow and margins becoming tighter and the nature of the labour market changing, training can often be a difficult area for both the private and public sectors to focus resources.  However issues of skills shortages have only reduced in scale temporarily and we must redouble our efforts to establish the skills our economy will need in order to grow and prosper in the future if we are to avoid a skills crisis in two or three years’ time.”

Download below, the full Scottish Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Business Survey for Q1 2009.

download: PressReleaseq12009Final.doc