0 The green shoots of recovery?

DaveSaltman2012It seems that, every time I sit down to write my foreword these days, many of the options for discussion are all pretty negative. The news seems perpetually dominated by the world's financial crisis, wars, terrorism, extreme weather; even the Government can't decide which route to take!

By nature, I'm a pretty optimistic person; I've always been upbeat, enthused people and got the job done with whatever it takes. So, being positively minded, let's ponder where we are at the moment.

Talking to the manufacturers and suppliers that support our industry, 2012 wasn't a disaster; it certainly wasn't great, but most seem to have held their own reasonably well.

The industry has certainly seen cutbacks, but we are not seeing companies going to the wall, such as we are seeing on the high streets. Perhaps we should only start to get worried when we witness the Comet, Blockbuster and Jessops type failures occurring but, from what I hear, that is simply not going to happen in the turf industry any time soon.

You see, we work in an industry that, on the whole, supports sport and, whilst people want to continue to play games on fine turf, there will always be a need for our expertise, equipment and products.

The UK economy shows that, whilst the GDP (gross domestic product) has dipped again, raising concerns over a triple dip recession, employment figures have improved and the stock market is becoming increasingly buoyant. The GDP figures have been held back largely by our North Sea oil fields and the weather hitting yields in the farming industry, so perhaps there are truly signs of recovery around the corner now. Even the Greek treasurer thinks his country will show signs of growth again before the end of this year!

So, there's hope of a gradual improvement through 2013 with the general UK economy, and the global optimism is improving with the eurozone situation looking less volatile. Yes, there are concerns about the US, but the longer term deal on the debt ceiling will have helped no end to calm their fiscal fears.

With sterling weakened, which is helping our competitiveness, and the Bank of England's 'Funding for Lending' scheme, there is an improvement to credit conditions. If these trends, including an improving house market, can all remain in place, there is the platform for the UK economy to start performing more strongly as we progress through the year.

And maybe, just maybe, the sun may put in a few more appearances this year as well; because, if it does, then more sport will be played and more money will be available to get our sports surfaces back up to their optimum condition.

Bring on the spring!
Dave Saltman

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