Technology firms with the ability to meet shifting customer demands are well-placed for success in 2013, say north west business leaders, as reported at MEN Media.
The pace of change in a range of industries means that companies which are fleet-of-foot will reap the most benefit, say experts.
John Hughes, a transaction services partner at the Manchester office of accountancy giant KPMG, said technology companies which adapt to changing customer needs are set to be among the region’s winners over the next 12 months.
Industries such as oil and gas and car production will continue to do well, and technology companies which serve them will benefit, as long as they are able to keep pace with change in those sectors, he said.
“If you look at the number of private equity investments over the last 10 years, the biggest growth has been in the technology space,” said Mr Hughes.
“Technology is becoming the new manufacturing.”
Mr Hughes also predicts progress for the region’s life sciences sector, as people are living longer, creating increased demand for medicines and other new products.
Baron Frankal, director of economic strategy at Manchester think tank New Economy, said Greater Manchester is well-established as the main centre outside London for the creative and digital sector, as well as professional and business services, while retaining its place as a centre for advanced manufacturing.
He said: “Our strengths in creative and digital, and business and professional services are likely to drive further growth, with strong development also predicted in science-related activities, and a return to growth for the construction sector as the economy picks up.”
Dr Brian Sloan, chief economist at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “Manufacturing had a weaker end to 2012 but I think it will start to pick up again, and there are signs of more construction activity.”
Experts said store chains developing their online operations will be the ones to stay ahead in retailing, as more high street closures are inevitable.
Deal and investment activity are often good economic indicators and Roddy Kilpatrick, of Ernst & Young’s Manchester office, anticipates more mergers and acquisitions in 2013.
He said: “There’s a lack of confidence in the business community driven by fear of the eurozone crisis, slowing growth in emerging markets and concerns that the the US can’t sort out its fiscal cliff, and that has led to a real lack of confidence in the M&A market.
“Business investment has been poor. We believe it’s 15 per cent below its peak six years ago. Large companies are holding cash and not investing, which can be damaging for UK economy and prevent growth.
“There is evidence that some of the risks are beginning to diminish. There are positive signs of level of growth in China and India, and the landslide election of a new government in Japan could prove to be significant.
“As a wider recovery starts to gather pace, we think corporates will become more bullish about releasing their cash.”