Business leaders in Swansea react to latest contraction of British economic output
THE latest nosedive in Britain's economy has sparked mixed reactions from business leaders across South West Wales.
The economy shrank by 0.3 per cent in the last three months of 2012, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Nationally, this coincided with the collapse of electronics chain Comet and high street photographic group Jessops.
In the Neath Valley, 290 people were made redundant from the Aberpergwm Colliery after parent company Walter Energy decided to mothball the mine in the face of falling coal prices.
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On Wednesday this week the ONS confirmed the number of people out of work and claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire from November to December last year.
Fast food chain McDonald's has also pledged to create 85 jobs in Swansea over the next three months.
Dave Howells, chairman of Swansea- based commercial air conditioning specialist ACT, said: "The GDP figures are disappointing; they highlight the challenging climate in which enterprise is operating.
"Trade has slowed a little this month, traditionally a quiet time for our industry, but we anticipate a significant increase in March due to warmer weather, a growing need for our product and the new financial year."
Julian Hilton, regional managing director of Jelf Insurance Brokers, said the latest figures suggested the likelihood of a triple dip recession.
He said: "After the last GDP announcement I predicted that the economy wasn't out of the woods yet and it seems this has indeed proved to be the case.
"Unfortunately, there were just too many temporary factors at play and it looks like the most recent figure is much more accurate.
"A 'triple dip recession' certainly looks a lot more likely from here which would be extremely bad news for the economy and business in Wales as a whole.
"That being said, I remain optimistic about the year ahead and hopeful that as 2013 unfolds we will start to see improvements."
Kath Whitrow, president of Swansea Business Club, said: "Businesses around the Swansea Bay area continue to be very pro-active in exploring all markets and maximising opportunities and it was encouraging to see that some additional jobs created over the holiday period will translate into permanent positions."
See page 18 for the latest on six of the best-performing businesses in the South West Wales region honoured for their achievements.