CONFIDENCE is growing amongst the region's businesses, a new survey has revealed.

Expectations regarding increased profits and sales, plus staff recruitment, have risen.

The findings are contained in the latest quarterly economic survey produced by West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Micro, small, medium and large businesses were included in the research.

Nearly half of those that export goods or services reported an improvement in order books, although one in three voiced concerns about the impact the Middle East conflict could have.

There was also strong domestic activity, with 32 per cent of service sector firms and 26 per cent of manufacturers saying sales at home had grown during the first three months of the year.

The number of businesses looking to invest and take on more staff has risen, despite many reporting that the cost of labour is now the biggest issue faced – 62 per cent of manufacturers and 60 per cent of service firms cited it as their chief cost pressure.

Amanda Beresford, chair of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, says: "Our latest quarterly economic survey shows great levels of appetite to invest and take on staff, with outlook on profits and orders also showing a marked improvement.

"This is most welcome news, especially given that the previous survey had shown a more negative outlook.

"However, clearly much uncertainty persists. The number of businesses concerned about the conflict in the Middle East remains high, as do worries over interest rates.

"While instability might be the new normal, we have the resilience and leadership here in Yorkshire to deliver a vibrant and bright economy that is able to create jobs, fuel investment and bolster profits."

Mark Casci, the chamber’s head of policy, says: "For the first quarter of this year, there has been an improving picture on sales – both domestically and internationally – on hiring intent, upon investment and on expectations around improved profitability. And these findings are based on fieldwork carried out when it was confirmed the UK had entered a technical recession.

"What is crucial now is whether the anticipated decline in overheads filters through into reality. After two years of soaring costs, the hope is now we can welcome a period of stabilisation.

"We are an innovative and agile economy here in Yorkshire and we have what it takes to get back to meaningful growth."

The fieldwork for the survey was carried out in February and March.

Of those businesses surveyed, 43 per cent were micro, 30 per cent small, 18 per cent medium and nine per cent large.