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Local and regional economies will grow, but be cautious

The past six months has certainly been a mixed bag of optimism met with prudent pragmatism.

There were undoubtedly flurries of activity interspersed with ‘wait and see’ pauses, and if I was a school teacher it would have been given a B- with a ‘could do better’ sign off.

Certainly as the region approached the election, more and more businesses we were in contact with were planning for growth but just wanted to see which political party would be taking up residence in Downing Street.

The local and regional economies were still performing reasonably well given some trepidation about who the future chancellor would be. The recession is still fresh in the mind of many business owners and there is a sense that buying decisions are taking longer and are more deliberate than during the halcyon days of pre-2007. This approach is no bad thing as it will serve businesses well, particularly when the economy is in a much better shape.

After the election, there was a marked increase in activity – commercial property and corporate transactional work is warming up again and our teams are very busy. M&A activity is rising which is often a good thermometer of how ‘hot’ the economy is and our clients are performing well so it certainly seems that we are faring better than most.

A number of sectors which we specialise in have gained significant traction. The firm’s Leisure, Rural, Construction and Property departments are experiencing an increase in growth of at least 13 per cent for each department. Our Employment and Corporate teams are also in high demand again which is another good indicator that organisations are planning for investment and growth.

On a regional level it is interesting to see how the Northern Powerhouse concept will cause a ripple effect, but I am a firm believer that the North West, and Lancashire, is a powerhouse in its own right already – additional investment into the infrastructure will really help exploit the region’s strengths, which are many.

Any business worth its salt should prepare for the worst but hope for the best and we need to keep a very careful eye on the horizon. The Eurozone is looking shaky at the moment and we still really do not know what the fallout out will be should Greece not reach an agreement with creditors regarding its bailout payments.

It is highly likely that there will be an interest rate increase to keep check on inflation but economists are saying that this will not happen is in early 2016. Undoubtedly it will cause momentary concern and the residential housing market will feel it most, but any rise will not be unexpected.

In terms of our business, we are forecasting a sustainable growth in turnover due to our commitment to the local and regional markets – it is where we do most of our business and there is a good level of work in the pipeline. This does not mean we will be complacent, far from it. “Proactive” is a key word for us and I am looking forward to being able to make some very exciting announcements about Napthens in the short to mid-terrm. Whilst at the same time we remain totally committed to continuing to help our clients make the most of the opportunities and minimise the risks.

Executive Team - CEO - John Whittingslow