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25 January, 2006 - 22:02 By Staff Reporter

Local investment spree leaves rest of UK trailing

East of England companies are planning an investment spree that will leave the rest of the UK trailing in its wake, new research from Lloyds TSB Corporate has revealed.East of England companies are planning an investment spree that will leave the rest of the UK trailing in its wake, new research from Lloyds TSB Corporate has revealed.

Almost 40 per cent of established small to medium sized companies in the area have vowed to inject fresh capital into their businesses – 8 per cent ahead of the national average and almost twice some regions.

It is the greatest show of confidence in one region ever recorded in the Lloyds TSB Corporate ‘Business in Britain’ survey and the first time this region has so comprehensively outstripped London or the South East for its growth ambitions. While 38 per cent of local companies so they will spend to expands, only a quarter of the capital’s businesses think they can keep pace.

The forecast boom for the next six months follows a remarkably buoyant last half-year for the East of England.

In the last six months, the Lloyds TSB Corporate figures show, order books have swollen, profits and turnover grown significantly and investment has been substantially higher than the rest of the UK: 48 per cent of local SMEs have invested in growth over that period compared to the national average of just 29 per cent, 38 per cent in London and 22 per cent in the South East.

Almost 40 per cent of local businesses took on new staff during this time – 11 per cent above the national average.

The challenge now, according to Neil Mackie, relationship director for the bank in the East of England is to find enough staff with the right skills to keep the growth bandwagon rolling.

He said: “The only negative to emerge from our findings is that the majority of SMEs still report problems in recruiting enough people with the right skills to maintain the momentum. But that is the case right across the UK, not just in this region.

“The encouraging thing is that so many management teams are utterly determined to overcome these skills shortages through continued investment.”

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