Brexit uncertainty blamed for fall in new business order in NI

Retail and construction sectors worst hit, Ulster Bank survey finds

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

Companies in the North blamed “Brexit uncertainty” for yet another sharp fall in orders last month as their clients were reluctant to commit to new projects, new research shows.

According to Ulster Bank’s Northern Ireland October PMI report business activity, new orders and employment numbers all fell last month with the construction and retail sectors the worst hit.

Richard Ramsey, chief economist for Northern Ireland at Ulster Bank, said: “Northern Ireland’s private sector has started the fourth quarter the way it ended the third, with business conditions deteriorating.

“Northern Ireland remains rooted to the bottom of the regional league table for output and orders. Furthermore, local firms continue to see their input costs rise at faster rates than anywhere else in the UK.”

Pessimistic

Mr Ramsey said last month’s Brexit deal had done little to reduce the level of uncertainty facing Northern Ireland firms, with many remaining “pessimistic” about the outlook for the next 12 months although some were decidedly more optimistic than they had been during September.

According to the latest Ulster Bank survey the drop in new orders for companies in Northern Ireland was the fastest fall recorded in the UK last month and this made businesses concentrate on existing projects which saw backlogs of work decrease for the 15th month in a row.

This in turn forced companies to lower their staffing levels and led some businesses to reduce their charges in a bid to win new orders.