BUSINESS in Winchester appears to be on the up, according to a property specialist based in the city.

At a special conference, held at Winchester’s Holiday Inn, businesses from across the county came together for the Business Outlook 2014 – published by Christie + Co.

The report aims to provide predictions for the forthcoming year and offer networking opportunities for local businesses.

Ed Bellfield, regional director of Christie + Co, said: “Looking back on 2013, we predicted that we were at the bottom of the value trough, but that opportunities to acquire assets would still be present. Today, we can say that whilst there have been variations between sectors, on the whole our assertion was vindicated on both counts.

“Even the slight falls in average prices in care and retail fail to recognise a recovery in each of these sectors in the second half of the year.

“There has also been a resurgence in the demand for lifestyle businesses, typically in coastal and country areas. It is a sign of renewed confidence in the economy when individuals are prepared to relocate from their homeland origins in order to embark on a new business venture.

"The good news for these and other buyers is that finance continues to be available from an ever-widening range of sources, albeit at prudent loan-to-value ratios.

“This is, perhaps, unsurprising given the Government’s incentives to stimulate the residential property market. The relevance of this market is, of course, that the first-time buyer will invariably sell a residential property in order to provide his or her seed-corn capital. The first-time buyer also has a considerable impact on the market mechanism and liquidity as a whole.

“Freehold sales of Tatchbury Manor Care Home near Southampton, The Porthouse in Winchester and the Anchor Inn at Ropley reflects the emerging confidence in the local economy.

“In future years, business owners and entrepreneurs will look back at this period as being an outstanding opportunity for acquiring well-priced assets.”