THE latest Greater Manchester Business Survey has revealed a general boost in confidence which is upheld by an increase in jobs growth and overall improvements to economic performance.

The survey was launched today by New Economy, in partnership with Trafford Council, Business Growth Hub, BMG Research, Manchester City Council, and Rochdale Council.

The survey incorporates responses from more than 1,200 businesses across the Greater Manchester area.

The survey showed that 50 per cent of the businesses surveyed are optimistic about the year ahead and expect their turnover to increase over 2013.

Only seven per cent anticipate their turnover will decrease this year, while 33 per cent expect it to stay the same.

Dr Alexander Roy, acting deputy director for New Economy, said: “It is encouraging to see that economic sentiment is improving across Greater Manchester, which is reflected by the boost to business performance levels and to perceptions of the conurbation as a place to trade.

“However, there remain some significant challenges. Not least around Greater Manchester’s links with international markets, by which there is still room for improvement. Though the signs suggest we are moving in the right direction with interest growing in trading with the BRICs markets in particular.

“In addition, half of the firms interviewed also said they expect an increase in turnover this year. It is therefore likely that the effects of this will have an impact on international trade efforts over the long-term.”

Richard Jeffery, director of the Business Growth Hub, said: “Overall, this is a positive response to the latest survey and we’re particularly pleased to see that companies have been more likely to innovate, access support services and to have invested in staff training over the last 12 months.

“These factors all suggest there is a healthy appetite for business development across the region.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “It’s encouraging to see an increasing climate of business optimism in Manchester and important that Manchester City Council and its partners, private and public alike, keep working together to ensure the right conditions for businesses to flourish and local people to benefit from that growth, whether that’s improved connectivity to help compete in a global market or a pool of people with the right skills to access the jobs created.

“Manchester has weathered this downturn better than many places but we should not underestimate the scale of the ongoing challenge.”

To download the Greater Manchester Business Survey 2013 in full:

Results from the survey show:

• Economic performance and employment growth has improved since 2012

• Turnover growth is strongest in wholesale and retail, professional services, hospitality and manufacturing

• Improvements reported across all ‘satisfaction variables’, in particular public transport

• Business training provisions have improved on the whole compared to 2012

• More than four fifths of businesses report they proactively reduce waste

• Over a fifth (22 per cent) acknowledged skills gaps – with frequently cited issues relating to technical /craft skills