NEWPORT businesses are reporting that they are starting 2015 in a strong position although recruitment challenges remain a cause for concern.

The latest Quarterly Economic Survey, released today by the South and Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce and the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, shows that most Newport businesses are looking ahead to 2015 with optimism.

Ceri Assiratti of Admiral, said: “2015 promises to be another exciting year for Admiral in Newport. We’ve only been in our new city centre offices for around six months, so are still settling in to our new home.

“The location of Admiral House is ideal, with local traders and retailers putting on a terrific welcome.”

The survey monitors the performance of businesses across Wales and acts as a barometer for the strength of the Welsh economy.

The majority of businesses (87.5%) surveyed reported improving or consistent sales in UK markets, although this is a slight decrease since the start of 2014 of 0.7 percent.

The number of businesses recruiting full-time and permanent staff has been steadily growing throughout 2014.

But more than half (61.1%) state that they are experiencing difficulties in recruiting.

Commenting on the latest figures, Graham Morgan, director of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, said: “The move towards businesses recruiting more full-time and permanent staff is good news for the economy.

“However, we are increasingly concerned about the number of businesses reporting that they are experiencing difficulties in recruiting staff. We have frequently raised the need to improve the skills of the future and current workforce... this is clearly now an urgent problem.”

Alex Currie of, based in Imperial Way, said that as a company it has “invested heavily” to ensure it has “the right team of talented, hardworking people”.

He added: ““As a highly recognisable national brand, we naturally set the bar high when it comes to our recruitment process which can mean that we sometimes struggle to find candidates with a suitable skill level for every department.

“We agree that something needs to be done to support us and other Welsh businesses to recruit the right workforce to sustain future growth.”

The number of businesses investing in equipment increased during 2014 (from 40.6% in Q1 to 45% in Q4), but the number increasing their investment in training fell by 5.7 percentage points (from 51.9% in Q1 to 46.2% in Q4).

Mr Morgan added: “We are concerned to see a reduction in the number of companies increasing their training budgets. While there is a clear skills gap in recruiting staff, businesses themselves need to take responsibility for upskilling their workforce.

“We also want to see drastic improvements in Wales’s ranking in the international PISA test results, as well as a thorough future workplace skills review so that the next generation of Wales’s workforce are adequately equipped to support the business community.”