Belfast Telegraph

Seven out of 10 Northern Ireland firms optimistic over future

By Clare Weir

Over 70% of businesses in Northern Ireland are more optimistic about the economy now than they were three months ago, according to a new survey.

Three in five businesses in Northern Ireland are reporting growth indicators like investing in new equipment, experiencing increased profit, sales volume, market share and business growth.

Insolvency trade body R3's Business Distress Index said that the biggest increase since the last survey in June is the proportion of Northern Ireland businesses surveyed investing in new equipment, which has risen by 28 percentage points to 42%.

Levels of business distress are also low with 60% of businesses surveyed not reporting any of the key indicators of business distress, which include falling profits, sales volumes, market shares, regular use of maximum overdrafts and redundancies.

One in four businesses surveyed reported regularly using their maximum overdraft facility, down from the record-high level of one in three in the last survey in June.

Just over 70% of businesses surveyed in Northern Ireland are more optimistic about the economy generally today than three months ago, compared to 58% nationally.

Michael Neill, chairman of R3 Northern Ireland said that the high level of optimism about the economy generally is well above the national average.

"The increasing investment in new equipment is a particularly welcome sign as it indicates businesses are feeling confident about their future prospects," he said.

"It is encouraging to see Northern Irish businesses investing in the long-term."

"The reliance of some businesses on overdrafts may reflect the difficulty many businesses are experiencing in accessing new finance, particularly from banks. For businesses looking to fund expansion there is a tendency to optimise every ounce of credit available.

"Cash flow can be a concern for growing businesses, as can ensuring a business keeps up with demand."

Belfast Telegraph

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