According to evidence from Grant Thornton and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), businesses in the North West saw a significant 4.9 per cent increase in turnover in 2013 as growth blossomed in the region. More recently, the Manchester Monitor report, published this month, shows a 22.9 per cent year on year increase in the number of new businesses set up in the city for April.
Poignantly, this burgeoning population of North West entrepreneurs also includes a significant proportion of women, with Greater Manchester’s Business Growth Fund stating 50 per cent of client businesses were female-led, compared to the national average of a third.
Taken in parallel, this expansion of existing businesses and proliferation in the number of new start-ups has had a profound effect on employment in the region too. In fact, the Office for National Statistics reports an 8.1 per cent fall in North West unemployment in the space of a year, with Manchester’s jobseeker claimant count falling by a staggering 30.1 per cent.
This trend looks set to continue too, as the region is home to the largest number of medium-sized businesses outside of London and the South East, whose contribution to the economy has increased by 26 per cent in the last three years according to the Confederation of British Industry.
“These businesses are optimistic about the economy and with a small helping hand from the government their future growth potential could be even greater,” comments Damian Waters, regional director for CBI in the North West. “With better access to a range of growth finance options, improved training, research support and help to break into new exports markets, they could be worth an extra £20bn to the UK economy by 2020."
Former Tesco boss, Sir Terry Leahy also feels North-West businesses could push the local economy even further if better connections were made within the region, telling the Guardian that cities like Liverpool and Manchester, “Should work together and see what can be done when you have 7 million people, lots of industrial assets, lots of industrial heritage, and make use of the fact that people understand industry up in the North West, they are more supportive of investment and use of resources.”
Thankfully, the International Festival of Business will provide a vital opportunity for SMEs from across the North West to come together in celebration of the region’s budding business scene, forging partnerships that will demonstrate the area’s worth to the UK economy.