UK SMEs Buoyant but Less Optimistic About Future Growth and Recruitment
Having conducted its latest annual UK-wide survey of SMEs, AXA Business Insurance reports that that, while the overall levels of optimism remain healthy at more than 80%, nearly one in ten fewer SMEs expect growth than a year ago. Key findings include:
Overall optimism stayed steady at 82% (81% in 2013), but was slightly lower among retail and distribution businesses (79%) and highest among businesses offering personal services (89 per cent). Retail businesses also showed a big drop in growth expectations – while 71% said they were optimistic of growth in 2013, this figure fell to 58% this year. Only construction/industrial companies were looking more confident about growth this year, possibly a reflection of the fastest growth in house building that the UK’s seen since 2003.
SMEs’ appetite for recruitment has also suffered this year, with a 40% drop in businesses planning to hire. Small retail businesses have taken the biggest hit – only 15% are planning to take on staff this year, compared to almost 50% this time last year.