Region's small businesses planning for upturn

NORTH-EAST businesses are preparing for an upturn next year with priorities for the next six months including staff training and development and business growth of ten per cent, according to the Business Factors Index report for the third quarter of 2013.

The findings of the latest report, produced by specialist business funder Bibby Financial Services, also suggest a higher level of confidence as more businesses in Q3 say they have seen signs of wider economic recovery than in the previous quarter.

However the survey of small and medium-sized enterprise owners also revealed that conditions are still challenging for many firms and top of the list of demands to help ease the burden is a focus on improving the skillset of school leavers entering the workplace.

Peter Cromarty, spokesperson for Bibby Financial Services in the North-East, said it was encouraging that businesses were looking to get fit for the future, but raised a concern about the level of funding support that firms are applying for.

He said: "It is a really positive sign to see firms in the region investing in future growth and staff training as it reflects the level of ambition for the future in the region.

"However one of the more concerning findings in the report is that 75 per cent, of firms in the North-East have not applied for business funding in the past 12 months.

"Firms looking at staff development and training as a priority need the finance behind them to be able to make that investment in their staff, and should be talking to funding providers about the options that suit them best.

"Funding schemes which are based on the value of the firm's current sales ledger, such as invoice finance, are helping thousands of businesses in the North-East to secure their cash flow and focus on business growth in this way.

"Funding support is vital in underpinning a sustainable recovery both in this region and the rest of the UK."

Key facts from the Business Factors Index for Q3 2013:

  • More than a third, 34 per cent, of firms identified staff training and development as a priority for the next six months.
  • More than a third, 36 per cent, of SMEs in the North East looking to achieve growth of up to ten per cent next year. 
  • Nearly two thirds, 59 per cent, say they have seen an increase in new customers during Q3. 
  • 40 per cent of firms feel the economy is already showing signs of recovery. 
  • 39 per cent believe improving the skillset for school leavers going into the workplace would help stimulate economic recovery.

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