Birmingham-based manufacturers saw sales to domestic customers rise to the highest level in almost three years last quarter – but struggled to grow export sales.
According to the latest quarterly economic survey by Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 49 per cent of production firms recorded an increase in domestic orders in the second quarter of the year.
A total of 49 per cent of companies also reported an increase in overseas sales, but 27 per cent said overseas revenues had fallen compared to the first quarter.
Figures for the service sector indicated that any recovery has slowed over the past three months. Home market sales increases were reported by 34 per cent of firms, a drop of two per cent on the first quarter, and orders were also down at 33 per cent from 34 per cent.
There was better news on the export front for service companies, with 48 per cent, compared to 31 per cent in the first quarter, reporting increased sales and 40 per cent, against 33 per cent, having boosted orders.
Paul Bassi, president of the chamber, said: “While production remains well below pre-recession levels, we can take some encouragement from these figures, which show that the sector is starting to recover its losses.
“However, we will continue to urge the Government to create the infrastructure to drive growth, creating the best possible conditions for firms to employ people, and having them renew focus on trade.”
There was encouraging news on the jobs front for Birmingham, where unemployment stands at 11.9 per cent, the highest among the UK core cities.
A total of 28 per cent of manufacturers said they had increased their workforce while only four per cent had suffered a drop. These were the best figures for more than 12 months – in the same quarter past year nearly half of the firms were cutting staff levels.