Business confidence in Cumbria is on the up despite sluggish economic growth and fears over a no-deal Brexit, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has said.

The claim comes after the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) from the British Chambers of Commerce, which includes feedback from businesses in Cumbria, reported a rise in the number of firms expecting both sales and profits to increase.

And the intelligence gathered has been backed up by activity on the ground in the county, with a flurry of deals and investments taking place, including Carr’s Group’s £9.6 million deal for Barrow’s NW Total Engineered Solutions, significant investment from a Saudi Arabian firm in Penrith’s Typhon Treatment Systems and H&H Group’s acquisition of Smeatons Estate Agency and Lettings Agency, to name a few.

The QES is based on responses from 6,800 businesses, making it the largest survey of its kind in the UK.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “The data we’re getting from businesses here is in line with the national trend.

“Many remain positive despite immediate difficulties. Domestic and export sales have weakened and businesses remain under pressure from rising costs, especially wage increases.”

The QES findings are expressed as balance figures – weighing the percentage of firms that report an anticipated increase against those who expect a decrease – with a positive figure indicating expansion and a negative contraction.

The three months to June saw manufacturing businesses expecting an increase in sales jump from +26 to +38, while services-related businesses rose from +26 to +35.

Manufacturers anticipating higher profits rose from +13 to +24 while the figure for services climbed from +19 to +26.

However, Mr Johnston added a word of warning.

“We shouldn’t get carried away with these figures.,” he said.

“Despite the optimism, businesses are reluctant to spend – investment in new equipment and staff training remain at historically low levels. The economy is fragile.

“Brexit uncertainty subsided after the March 29 deadline came and went but we expect it to loom large again in the autumn, especially if we appear to be heading for a no-deal departure.

“The next Prime Minister must take steps to inject momentum into the UK economy. Businesses want to see plans to tackle barriers to growth, avoid a disorderly Brexit and restore the UK’s global reputation as a place to invest and trade.”