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More Customers, More Staff, Less Costs: Top Three Priorities for UK Businesses in 2015

Increasing the size of their customer base, employing more people and cutting costs are the three most important business goals for UK SMEs in 2015, according to new research from Santander Corporate & Commercial.

Increasing the size of their customer base, employing more people and cutting costs are the three most important business goals for UK SMEs in 2015, according to new research from Santander Corporate & Commercial1.

  • Increasing the size of their customer base, employing more people and cutting costs are the three most important goals for UK SMEs in 2015
  • Firms that describe themselves as ‘highly ambitious’ are even more focused on growing customers and employees
  • A fifth (20%) of SMEs looking to expand international trade – this is higher (23%) for ‘highly ambitious’ businesses

Finding more customers was ranked by three-fifths of businesses (61%) as the key target, followed by half (52%) for employing more people and a similar number (51%) for cutting costs. Other objectives include buying new capital equipment (45%), to develop new products (41%), and to seek out new suppliers (33%).

The survey, which gauged sentiment from a range of UK businesses around their business plans in 2015, found that SMEs which described themselves as ‘highly ambitious’ were even more focused on growing customers and employees: two-thirds (66%) were looking to grow the number of customers and 57% to employ more staff.

Highly ambitious businesses were also more likely to be actively trading internationally: 56% stated they already trade internationally versus half (50%) for all firms; and a quarter (23%) said they will look to expand further into international markets in 2015 against a fifth (20%) of all businesses.

Top business objectives for UK SMEs in 2015All FirmsHighly Ambitious Firms
Increase customer base61%%66%
Employ more people52%57%
Cut costs51%48%
Try to develop new markets49%54%
Improve company skills – e.g. via training or recruitment48%48%
Buy new capital equipment – e.g. machinery, vehicles, hardware45%44%
Develop new products or services41%46%
Acquire new technology36%42%
Seek out new suppliers33%37%
Negotiate better payments with suppliers29%35%
Invest in the business to fund day-to-day cash flow28%33%
Negotiate better payments with customers24%31%
Move into/expand further into international markets20%23%
Source: Santer Corporate & Commercial

To support the growth aspirations of UK SMEs, Santander Corporate & Commercial offers a range of products and services, including the Trade Portal, an online tool to help explore export opportunities, and the Santander Breakthrough programme, which aims to support fast-growth small businesses. As well as funding, Breakthrough offers companies access to trade missions, business master classes, networking events and support in areas such as finance and marketing.

Marcelino Castrillo, Head of SME at Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “It is great to see that expansion is a key theme for UK businesses in 2015, particularly with regards to employing more staff. This is great news for the UK economy as the health of the country’s small and medium-sized businesses significantly affects us all. It is also interesting to note that firms that see themselves as highly ambitious are eager to expand, grow and export even more, a good indication of what drives our more successful businesses.

“Santander is dedicated to supporting UK firms, and provides a comprehensive service suite for all types of businesses. We see that international trade is key priority for many and with services such as Breakthrough and the Trade Portal we are very well placed to help business to grow in the UK and abroad.”

The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.

Notes to editors

1 Research conducted by independent market research firm Illuminas between 30th October and 28th November 2014 among 800 SMEs via a telephone methodology

About Us
Santander Corporate & Commercial
provides dedicated relationship banking support to businesses with a turnover of more than £250,000. It is part of Santander UK, a leading financial services provider in the UK which offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 31 December 2014, Santander UK serves around 14 million active customers with c. 20,000 employees, 921 branches and 66 regional Corporate Business Centres. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

About Us
Banco Santander (SAN.MC, STD.N, BNC.LN) is a retail and commercial bank, based in Spain, with a presence in 10 main markets. Santander is the largest bank in the euro zone by market capitalization. Founded in 1857, Santander had EUR 1.34 trillion in managed funds, 107 million customers, 13,225 branches – more than any other international bank – and 183,648 employees at the close of June 2014. It is the largest financial group in Spain and Latin America. It also has significant positions in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany, Poland and the northeast United States. In the first half of 2014, Santander registered EUR 2.756 billion in attributable profit, an increase of 22% from the same period of the previous year.

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