MANY of the district’s businesses are enjoying growing demand for their products and services, according to a new report.

But whilst confidence is strong, there are major challenges – particularly due to supply issues and labour shortages.

They are amongst the findings of Bradford Chamber of Commerce in its latest quarterly economic survey.

It says demand in the region remains healthy but many firms are struggling to keep pace as supply challenges hold back order fulfilment.

The availability and cost of raw materials is cited by manufacturers as a problem – as are haulage and shipping disruptions, largely down to Covid, Brexit and a lack of drivers.

Wider labour shortages are also a problem for many firms, with two-thirds of service sector businesses and 80 per cent of manufacturers reporting recruitment difficulties in the last quarter.

Additional bureaucracy, border delays and transportation costs continue to cause problems for half of manufacturers exporting to the EU – although the figure is down from the first quarter as companies adjust to new trade procedures.

Victoria Wainwright, president of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s pleasing to know that many of our businesses are now facing growing demand for their goods and services – but of course it’s not so pleasing that they are facing further challenges as they attempt to meet that demand.

“Rising input costs and inflationary pressures are expected to be short term, but will challenge company cash flows in the interim period as balance sheets recover from the economic crisis.

“On employment and recruitment, the survey findings chime with national data showing job vacancies at their highest recorded level. Recruitment, however, remains tough in the ‘candidate-led’ market which exists right now. Despite the challenges, business confidence remains strong as companies look to 2022.”

Sir Roger Marsh, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said it was “encouraging” that sectors worst affected by the pandemic were bouncing back.

He added: “Domestic demand has continued to grow and this is reflected in increased orders and sales in the service sector and robust performance by business-to-consumer sectors including hospitality and retail. The re-opening of the economy has swept away remaining caution.”