Record business growth sentiment for UK SMEs
The Santander Business Growth annual survey has revealed that confidence among UK SME owners regarding five-year growth prospects has hit a record high, with turnover growth of 33% a year on average predicted. One fifth of bosses reported that their business has never been in better shape, up from 13% in 2013, and 30% of companies said that retaining existing staff was an 'immediate priority' - up from 19% in 2013. Also, 12% of respondents said they were focused on hiring new staff. There was also an increase in SME owners reporting that they are looking at acquisitions for growth, with the number reporting this to be a priority rising to 17%, up from 14% in 2013. Moreover, 29% of business owners said they were looking to grow their business organically. A quarter said the long-term aim for their business was to grow it regionally, while 6% said they were targeting long-term growth internationally - double the number from 2013. However, despite the many positives, a tough trading environment was still seen as the biggest challenge to growth by UK businesses, cited by 47% of respondents (compared to 46% in 2013). A fifth said that reducing costs was a priority, although this is down significantly from 33% in 2013. The number of owners businesses saying access to capital is a challenge has pretty much stayed the same since 2013, falling slightly to 25% of respondents, compared to 26% last year. Other concerns included the ability to hire and retain the right staff for 18% of respondents, up from 14% in 2013. Marcelino Castrillo, Managing Director of SME Banking at Santander, said: It's extremely encouraging for UK plc that business confidence in the UK is at its highest level for three years, with businesses focused on growth both at home and overseas. While business owners report that trading conditions remain challenging, a fifth believe that their business has never been in better shape. The outlook for staff retention and new job creation is also positive, which is welcome news for the wider UK economy. ?Santander is committed to helping businesses prosper and has been a consistent supporter of businesses in the UK, with lending over the last four years growing by an average of 17% per year. Our innovative Breakthrough programme is designed to support the UK's best fast-growing small businesses and our International proposition supports UK companies by providing them with access to a worldwide network with proven expertise in international finance.
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