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The Thames Valley Business Barometer

The results of the Thames Valley Business Barometer Spring 2018 are out

Economic confidence is on the increase in the Thames Valley, according to the latest Thames Valley Business Barometer report published today by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP, and disruptive-tech PR agency C8 Consulting.


What is the Thames Valley Business Barometer?

Seven years ago, BDO LLP and C8 Consulting launched a project, it’s aim being to provide a regular snapshot of business and economic confidence across the Thames Valley: titled The Thames Valley Business Barometer.

The ongoing collaboration between the two companies presents the results of a survey run for seven weeks covering the region’s economic confidence, growth and employment intentions, and also highlights specific emerging trends – the survey and subsequent report are published bi-annually. From Go-to-Market strategies to Brexit, and the changing face of the working environment, the barometer provides insight on topics that can affect businesses in different ways, for example, socially, politically, financially and environmentally.

This latest survey ran from 20 March to 11 May 2018. Over 100 businesses contributed and C8 would like to thank them for their support. The Barometer report contains the results of the survey as well as in depth profiles of Thames Valley organisations The Snaffling Pig, OxSyBio, Waylands, Kyocera and Thames Valley Science Park; in it they share their views on their own performance, the key challenges they face and the current economic conditions. C8 would like to thank all parties for generously giving their time to be interviewed. Finally, we would like to thank our Thames Valley Business Barometer panel of over 35 business leaders from across the Thames Valley region for their continued support.

Key findings

Our latest report revealed that a majority (89%) of companies surveyed stated that profitability has remained the same or increased in the last six months compared to 81% in the second half of 2017.  This trend was also observed with regard to turnover, with 90% reporting that it had remained the same or increased versus 83% last autumn.

The survey, which was conducted between late March and early May of 2018, revealed that, despite the uncertainty surrounding the impact of Brexit, 77% of business leaders felt that general levels of economic confidence had either improved or remained the same in the last six months. This compared to 53% in the second half of 2017, showing a clear rise in confidence translated by robust turnover, profit and order books.

Simon Brooker, Partner and Head of BDO LLP in the Thames Valley, said: “The results of the latest Barometer survey show a noticeable upturn in confidence and performance amongst Thames Valley businesses, and levels are close to those we saw in the lead up to the EU Referendum two years ago.

“We have tracked business sentiment through the Barometer survey for the last six years and, despite uncertainty around matters such as the impact of Brexit and the introduction of new US trading tariffs, the Thames Valley has continued to be a flourishing region for business in the UK”.

Top trends

The latest Business Barometer also focussed on environmental practices in the workplace, in particular organisations’ policies, as well as practices to reduce their environmental footprint and drive better environmental behaviour.

Paula Elliott, Managing Director of C8 Consulting, comments: “The survey also looked at environmental issues and it was interesting that the drivers for organisations to implement policies didn’t evolve around reducing costs, but were more about reputation and reducing their environmental footprint.  I think these drivers will continue to be important to businesses going forward, especially if they want to attract the next generation into the workforce.”

While a quarter of businesses didn’t have an environmental policy and no plans to introduce one, almost half (48%) said that they do have a policy in place and about a quarter (26%) were planning to introduce one. Interestingly, the two main drivers for organisations to have a policy were the improvement of their reputation (25%) and reduction of their environmental footprint (34%). Moreover, the survey showed that, in order to reduce their environmental footprint, a majority of companies (55%) thought that they could increase recycling and almost half (49%) said they could reduce business travel.

Both the reduction of energy consumption (44%) and waste (44%) were also stated as practical steps towards better environmental behaviour. However, businesses didn’t seem ready to cut down their water consumption as only 17% saw it as a viable option for reducing their environmental footprint.

In terms of actions organisations could undertake to drive better environmental behaviour, almost half of businesses (48%) said that the most important is to communicate good practice to staff, while a fifth cited the implementation of an environmental policy.

Insights – access all areas

Full details of the survey results can be found in the report with an article by Tracey Rawling Church, an independent consultant in corporate social responsibility and sustainability, who looks at environmental sustainability in the workplace, and a write up of the Barometer panel round table discussion held shortly after the survey closed.

To find out more about the report or to be profiled in the next Barometer please also contact Paula Elliott, MD, C8 Consulting. The more organisations that get involved, the more easily we will be able to gauge what is happening across the region. The next Barometer survey will take place from September to November and I hope that you will take part.

For a copy of the full report please click here. If you would like a hard copy version of this report, please email Paula Elliott on paula@c8consulting.co.uk or call Paula on 0118 949 7736.



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