Pent-up demand delivers promise as Huddersfield emerges from lockdown

Kirklees firms are reporting a surge in domestic sales activities as pent-up demand is unleashed following the relaxing of restrictions from April.

The Quarterly Economic Report, created in partnership between the Mid Yorkshire and West & North Yorkshire Chambers of Commerce and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), shows that while international sales remain subdued for many, stronger forward orders are helping to reduce the impact of these challenges.

The report also reveals that 50% of manufacturers and 40% of services businesses have seen increased recruitment activity in the last quarter. The number of companies looking to grow their headcount next quarter is also back to pre-Covid levels.

Intentions for both capital and training have also returned to pre-Covid levels. Following more than a year of holding back on investment, many firms are now moving forward with plans.

Martin Hathaway, managing director of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce said of the Q2 report:

“Despite ongoing challenges and disruption, the results of the quarter two survey are promising, as we continue to emerge from restrictions, and show that employment and investment intentions are on the rise.

“However, hospitality, events, travel and many more industries are still having to work tirelessly to keep their businesses afloat and continue trading, with many still facing major disruption, confusion and stress.

“UK manufacturers have also experienced increased pressures over the last quarter, caused partly by massive rises in haulage costs and shortages in sourcing components, raw materials and construction products.

“We must not forget the sectors that are still facing challenges, especially as more and more are able to reopen and return to ‘business as usual’. There is still much more to be done and we hope that, in quarter three and beyond, our businesses can continue to recover and flourish.

“We look forward to nurturing and supporting a more resilient, more determined workforce after the events of the last 18 months.”

Chief executive of Kirklees Council, Jacqui Gedman, added:

“Despite these wider trends, some business still face a challenging operating environment with social distancing and other measures still in place and consumer confidence yet to return to pre-COVID levels. Some sectors continue to face recruitment challenges.

“At the same time, the increase in COVID-19 infections across our communities caused by the Delta variant has created a further, significant public health challenge. I’m incredibly proud of the role colleagues across the Council and in partner organisations have played in our response, including the delivery of ‘pop up’ community testing and vaccination programmes. Some of this activity would simply not have been possible without effective partnership working with a number of local employers and I’d like to thank them for their contribution.

“The election of West Yorkshire’s first Mayor, Tracy Brabin, represents a hugely important step forward for devolution and to accelerate progress towards our shared vision of sustainable and inclusive economic growth for the region.

“Locally, this quarter has also seen further major progress in our plans to deliver the Blueprints for Dewsbury and Huddersfield through the announcement of over £24m of Towns Fund investment for Dewsbury and the achievement of important milestones for our Huddersfield Station Gateway and Cultural Heart projects.”

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