Businesses expecting a bumper year

SIMON MAUDE
Last updated 05:00 28/01/2014
Ian Forrester
BUSINESS LOGIC: Plan B general manager Ian Forrester says his company wouldn’t be in business if others don’t thrive.

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An Albany-based company says it's going "gangbusters" as the New Zealand economy gears up for a strong performance this year.

And Takapuna retailers are thrilled with a 7.1 per cent increase in customer spending.

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research's latest national Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion shows firms are the most optimistic they've been since June 1994.

NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub says companies are investing more and making better profits.

The survey shows domestic trading activity is up with 15 per cent of firms reporting an increase compared to 12 per cent in September and 52 per cent of businesses are optimistic about the economy, up from 33 per cent in September.

Ian Forrester, general manager of Albany's Plan B which provides data backup and contingency services to 500 New Zealand companies, is "very positive" about his company's medium-term prospects.

"We're going gangbusters, we're expanding investing heavily, we're expanding our facilities and we're adding more staff," he says.

Mr Eaqub says until Canterbury was the only region enjoying a recovery but the situation has now broadened to include most regions.

"When we look at business activity and confidence, Auckland is looking very strong," he says.

Plan B has seen a rise in demand for its product on the Shore because client firms are growing again and are now able to afford outsourced services, he says.

Statistics New Zealand's latest electronic card spending figures show an increase in consumer demand for three consecutive months to December. Unadjusted retail card spending for 2012 rose by 4 per cent.

And Takapuna retailers are trading ahead of that average, according to Auckland Council's 2013 Annual Market Activity Report.

Shoppers in 2013 spent $187 million, up from $174 million, a 7.1 per cent increase.

Takapuna Business Association manager Peter White says the area's "extremely strong" cafe culture is encouraging after-dining shopping.

Mr Eaqub says the improving outlook for companies has filtered down to employee's wallets.

Employees are more confident about keeping their jobs and getting a pay rise, he says.

NZIER figures show reported hiring in December rose to its highest levels since December 2006.

Meanwhile, the Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence Index has jumped to 120.1.

A 100-plus score means there are more people optimistic rather than pessimistic about the economy and about their personal finances.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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