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Yorkshire well placed for growth despite worse than expected GDP figures

Yorkshire is well placed for growth despite disappointing news released by the Office for National Statistics today revising its GDP figures for the final three months of 2011.

The latest figures show the economy contracted by more than previously estimated in Q4 with GDP revised down from -0.2% to -0.3%.

But Martin Holden, head of the Harrogate office of national accountancy firm Saffery Champness, said businesses in Yorkshire should remain optimistic.

Martin HoldenMartin Holden said: 

The announcement by the Office of National Statistics that the economy contracted 0.3% between October and December last year won’t come as a surprise to most commentators.

It provides further confirmation of the weak state of Britain’s economy at the end of last year but does not provide an insight into whether it has managed to stage a recovery early in the first quarter of 2012 as many analysts expect.

In terms of the big picture this sharper than previously reported drop in GDP in the fourth quarter of 2011 is clearly disappointing and only serves to further support the picture of an economy seeing only fitful and muted overall growth in 2011.

But he said Yorkshire was well placed for growth as the country moves towards recovery.

Martin Holden said: 

What will be of more interest for many Yorkshire businesses will be whether the economy has returned to growth in the first quarter of 2012 – and if it will be able to build on this in continuing difficult economic conditions.

Our experience is that successful businesses continue to thrive and that the local economic outlook for business remains positive.

Yorkshire has no shortage of entrepreneurs willing to demonstrate that a good idea and successful business model can allow a profitable business to be built in even these most challenging of economic times.

However, he added that some sectors would continue to suffer.

Martin Holden concluded: 

Rising fuel costs will clearly be a concern for the haulage and logistics sector. In addition, retailers will be suffering from reduced customer demand given shrinking household incomes and a prevailing atmosphere of economic uncertainty.

As we have seen in Harrogate, the entry of several large chains into administration has increasingly seen high street retailers look to exit leases and close non-core operations. Whether this creates an opportunity for independent businesses in the centre of town remains to be seen.

Beyond today’s announcement, what will be a major concern for many Yorkshire businesses will be the threat of fuel protests disrupting business activity over the coming months and the continuing impact of austerity measures. It would be good to see clear decisive action by the Government to minimise any disruption for business – both within Yorkshire and the UK as a whole.

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