Professional Services See Green Shoots of Recovery

The Birmingham Post (England), June 10, 2002 | Go to article overview

Professional Services See Green Shoots of Recovery


Byline: Steve Pain

The recovery in the UK service sector is being held up as sales to consumers continue to slide.

According to the CBI and Grant Thornton, some parts of the sector - notably companies that service other businesses, such as law firms and management consultants - have seen the start of a turnaround in their fortunes after enduring months of tough trading conditions.

They are more optimistic than at any time since the quarterly services survey began in November, 1998.

But their experience over the past few months is in marked contrast to other service sector firms, such as private healthcare providers and hotels.

John Hardbattle, office managing partner at Grant Thornton in Birmingham, said: 'Economic recoveries usually see a small number of sectors leading the return towards profitability.

'The differences in value, volume and optimism between the parts of the service sector indicate the UK's recovery is underway, led by the business and professional services sector. We are currently in the initial stages of this process but it is likely to be a long haul.'

According to the research, confidence is growing in the business and professional services sector.

It posted a plus 29 balance - the difference between negative and positive responses - as against plus 26 in February. But this turnaround has not yet translated into profits.

The CBI and Grant Thornton said the value and volume of business rose and there are strong positive expectations for the next three months. But costs continued to increase while companies barely felt able to increase prices.

This is the fourth consecutive quarter of falling profits, but respondents said they believed they would be able to increase prices over the next three months, boosting profitability. …

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