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Feb 18, 2013

Hardy SMEs staying strong

Open University research has shown a small group of small businesses (around one in ten) are not experiencing any business problems despite turbulent economic times.

The Open University’s Quarterly Survey of Small Businesses in Britain, supported by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and Barclays Business Banking, did find 38% of SMEs are still worried about how the downturn could affect demand.

Small businesses that turn over between £1-5 million were found the most optimistic for their prospects this year. The smallest ventures were found to be the most pessimistic.

The report also found SMEs in the manufacturing sector saw sales dip, although this was the sector in which firms were anticipating the highest levels of employment growth. Retail and transport SMEs displayed the weakest performance.

Professor Rebecca Taylor, Dean of The Open University Business School, said: “The latest findings show us that some firms are proving more resilient than others in the face of very tough trading conditions.

“We already know that firm size, sector and region are important influences on firm performance. This study highlights just how critical it is for us to take a much closer look at the skills and capabilities that SME owners and managers need if they are to keep their businesses on track in these challenging times.”

Sue Hayes, MD at Barclay’s Business Banking, added: “It is challenging environment out there right now for SMEs but despite this there are still many opportunities to be seized upon.

“The ability to make those important decisions at the right time is vital to the growth of all businesses and the overall UK economy. It is critical that SMEs seek as much help as they can from their bank, accountant, trade organisation and even other business.”


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