A CHESHIRE business leader – and a Knutsford-based firm – has welcomed the news that the economy continued to grow in the last quarter with both believing it is having a direct impact on firms in the county.

Figures released last week by the Office for National Statistics show the UK economy grew by 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2013, bringing the annual growth rate to 1.9 per cent – the fastest rate of growth since 2007.

Christine Gaskell, chair of the Cheshire and Warrington Enterprise Partnership, said: “We have certainly seen an upturn in our economy in Cheshire and Warrington.

“The feedback we’re receiving from business colleagues both corporate and SMEs, is that confidence levels are a lot higher and order books are improving.

“There is no room for complacency, but with continued hard work and innovative thinking we believe that businesses in Cheshire and Warrington can continue to lead the country out of recession.

“The strength of Cheshire and Warrington is its diversity and we do know that some businesses are waiting to see the benefits that will come from the economic upturn.

“Those businesses need a well-researched business plan, to be sure that their product range is in line with customer demand and must ensure that they look to innovate and export. Businesses must also remember that there is assistance and support available to them in the sub-region.”

Knutsford-based engineering firm AMEC has also recently been awarded a five year £255m contract to provide project management consultancy services for a range of projects in Kuwait.

The contract was won in a competitive tender following AMEC’s successful delivery of two previous contracts held since 2004.

Tatton MP George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, added: “These numbers are a boost for the economic security of hardworking people.

Growth is broadly based, with manufacturing growing fastest of all.

“It is more evidence that our long term economic plan is working. But the job is not done, and it is clear that the biggest risk now to the recovery would be abandoning the plan that's delivering jobs and a brighter economic future.”