AN unexpected but welcome leap in exports and sales has been recorded by St Helens businesses in recent months.
Local manufacturers saw export sales and orders increase by 19 and 20 percentage points respectively in the last quarter, while service sector companies saw sales leap by 16 points and orders by 24 points.
St Helens Chamber bosses say the boost will stand local firms in good stead when the UK economy finally picks up.
Tracy Mawson, the chamber’s director of business services, said: “We have successful businesses in St Helens that are thriving and creating jobs. When the upturn comes, our businesses have the potential to recover and grow - but this is not going to happen overnight.”
Among the local success stories is cable accessories distributor E-Tech Components Ltd.
Based on Sherdley Business Park, the firm, which employs six people, began exporting just five years ago and now boasts a turnover of £1.3m - with half of its business coming from overseas.
E-Tech, which was launched in Prescot before re-locating to St Helens, has even won two prestigious UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) exporting awards.
Managing director Chris Montgomery said: “After securing an order for £26,000 on a trade mission to Dubai, our exporting just developed from there.
“We also won contracts on a trade mission to Saudi Arabia and now do a lot of business in the Middle East and the Far East.”
Meanwhile, hard-pressed retailers in St Helens town centre are set to be given a valuable boost by their new superstar neighbours.
The arrival of Saints’ Langtree Park stadium on the outskirts of the town centre has provided the springboard for St Helens Council’s Local Heroes campaign – which is designed to breathe new life into the shopping area.
Banners will be unfurled at 24 locations while a giant Saints pavement graphic is planned for Church Square.
And new pedestrian signs will not only point the way to Langtree Park, but to the great range of town centre shops, bars, restaurants and car parks.
Saints skipper Paul Wellens said: “We owe everything to this town and the supporters who back us week in week out on the pitch. We’re determined to do all we can to help this campaign.”
Councillor Andy Bowden, St Helens Council’s cabinet member for urban regeneration, added: “We’re doing all we can to support town centre businesses through these difficult times by increasing footfall at every opportunity.”