Coventry City of Culture boost to region economy

Tim Squires (Squires Gear & Engineering), Louise Bennett and Hazel Pilling (Chamber)
coventry Chamber-City-Centre-9[2]

Industry experts in Coventry and Warwickshire believe there is growing optimism for the regional economy in 2022 – as a series of major events will help to boost business.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s virtual ‘Economic Bring Your Own Breakfast’ event saw representatives from a range of sectors come together to look at the results of the Chamber’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES).

The event heard how the final four months of UK City of Culture in Coventry, including Radio 1’s Big Weekend, the Commonwealth Games coming to Birmingham as well as venues in Coventry and Warwickshire, and regional celebrations for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, would all help to bolster economic activity across the city and the county.

Sean Rose, head of policy at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, hosted the event, which also heard from Sunny Parekh of Warwickshire County Council and Steve Harcourt of Prime Accountants Group, which sponsors the QES.

Helen Peters of Shakespeare’s England, Trish Willetts of Coventry BID, Roger Scott of Lloyds SME Banking and Tim Squires of Squires Gear & Engineering all then contributed to a panel discussion on the local economy.

Steve Harcourt, director of Prime Accountants Group, said: “There are good signs of growth for Coventry and Warwickshire in the coming weeks and months, with the regional recovery from Covid-19 now entering its next stage.

“Towards the end of 2021, we faced strained supply chains, over inflationary increases in some raw material costs, fuel and energy cost spikes, as well as skilled worker recruitment shortages.

“Looking ahead, forecast patterns for businesses are encouraging, and by the time of the next quarterly survey, we hope to see various sectors of the economy putting the challenges of last year in the rear-view mirror and resetting, achieving sustained turnovers across the board.”

The latest Quarterly Economic Survey indicates that tier 1 manufacturing suppliers are still facing difficulties, with investment and cashflow in and out of the sector going from 49.7 to 44 in Q4 of 2021.

Manufacturing business confidence also dropped from 62.9 to 55.8 in Q4 of 2021, but positivity amongst manufacturers is showing signs of growing again in the new year.

Tim Squires, commercial director of Squires Gears, said: “Manufacturing wise, the sustained easing of restrictions is allowing us to start planning for a post-pandemic future. Everyone is gradually getting back on their feet.

“Businesses are returning the production and manufacturing of goods back to the UK, which is great news for the sector. The electric vehicle boom also presents untold opportunities for our sector.

“We’re optimistic but we also have to be realistic about the challenges ahead.”

Roger Scott, Area Director of Lloyds Banking Group added: “Businesses have, in the main, done incredibly well to survive the past two years and repayments of Government-backed loans has been robust.

“There is strong potential for the regional economy and the news on the Gigafactory was a major boost for the area.”

The QES showed that hospitality and leisure is starting to grow again, with domestic sales in the service sector rising to 66.3 from 59.7.

Helen Peters, chief executive of Shakespeare’s England, said: “Businesses in the leisure, tourism and hospitality sector have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic but now, with restrictions lifted, there are opportunities to really see a bounce back.

“And, we can include international travellers in our plans once again which is significant for our region.”

Trish Willetts, Coventry BID Director, said: “In Coventry city centre, we are seeing lots of businesses investing which is great news for the local economy and the ongoing UK City of Culture celebrations, the Commonwealth Games and The Queen’s Platinum celebrations all provide further opportunities for growth.

“The city is evolving and changing with the times and, with confidence among consumers bouncing back and spending on the rise, it means 2022 is set to be an exciting time for the people of Coventry and Warwickshire.”