A report says the future for businesses across Lichfield and Burntwood remains bright despite the challenges of Covid and Brexit.
The findings from the Lichfield District Business Survey will be discussed at a meeting of Lichfield District Council’s overview and scrutiny committee.
The study, carried out by Congisant Research with 482 local companies between December 2021 and March this year, found the overall picture to be a “positive” one.
A report from Cllr Iain Eadie, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member responsible for economic development, said:
“Businesses have demonstrated a considerable resilience towards meeting the challenges of Covid.
“Although restrictions have created a considerable impact, there are examples of how businesses have used the pandemic to restructure their costs with a view to be more competitive in the future.
“At a lesser extent there is evidence that businesses have adapted to the challenges posed by Brexit.
“Overall, the business survey has found the economic position of the businesses participating in this economic impact study to be positive, given the optimism expressed in increasing employment and turnover over the coming 12 months and the net increase in employment opportunities identified over the past year.”Cllr Iain Eadie, Lichfield District Council
The survey found that 56% of companies taking part said they expected employee numbers to remain the same over the next 12 months, while 28% predicted they would increase staff.
However, 64% of businesses said they had seen decreased sales due to the covid pandemic over the past year, but 72% did expect turnover to return to pre-lockdown levels within a year.
The study also found that four in five of those firms surveyed did not require any support with issues linked to the UK leaving the European Union.
“Overall, Brexit appears to have had very little impact on the local business community, with a small proportion of businesses seemingly benefiting and suffering in equal measure.
“The most significant impact of Brexit experienced by 21% of businesses in this survey was concerns about an increase in border delays, with the greatest delays were experienced in the wholesale and retail sector , followed by construction, manufacturing and professional, scientific and technical businesses.”Lichfield District Business Survey
“Promote Lichfield as a destination”
The research identified that despite having an “economically-active population” lower than the West Midlands and Great Britain region, the district has more active enterprises than the average for other areas in Staffordshire.
Lichfield and Burntwood also saw more new businesses started in 2020 than the county average – 455 compared to 403 – while the five-year survival rate for start-ups in the district is 43.9%, higher than the Staffordshire figure of 43.4% and the England average of 39.5%.
The boss of a commercial property firm said this week that Lichfield was proving to be an attractive option for food businesses – and this new report said the district remained a desirable place for companies to operate in.
“Within the interviews and qualitative data, Lichfield’s status as a tourist destination was highlighted as one of our key strengths, driving footfall back to the high street and visitor spend into the district, with a consequent request to continue to invest in tourism and promote Lichfield as a destination, enabling hospitality business to thrive in the longer term.”Lichfield District Business Survey
The report and survey will be discussed at Lichfield District Council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Wednesday (15th June).