East Anglia: Firms showing signs of recovery, survey finds

Saturday, February 23, 2013
6.00 AM

EAST Anglian firms are showing signs of recovery, but nearly two thirds believe the economy won’t be fully fighting-fit for another five years, a survey has found.

The independent study for Bibby Financial Services found the number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) reporting an increase in business has risen from the last quarter.

During the fourth quarter of 2012, 26% of firms in the region saw an increase in orders compared to 23% in Q3, according to the quarterly Business Factors Index, which is used as a barometer of SME performance and outlook.

The key findings for East Anglia in Q4 2012 include a 43% report increase in new clients, compared to 28% in Q3, and a 35% report increase in enquiries, compared to 29% in Q3.

It also found 34% were recruiting new staff, compared to 13% in Q3 and 35% say their business should be improving in 2013.

However levels of optimism about the future remain a concern in the region as three out of five of businesses in East Anglia believe the economy will not fully recover for at least five years. Bibby’s Terry Wolfendale said the key for businesses looking to build on last year is access to financial support to provide a firm foundation for growth but this had been a challenge for many SMEs.

He said: “We all know that access to finance has been a challenge for many small and medium-sized businesses since the recession, which resulted in traditional forms of funding being shut off and credit controls tightened.

“However the invoice finance sector has seen a rise in demand from businesses looking to stabilise their cash flow and plan for growth, because we have been very much open for business and are committed to supporting SMEs over the coming years.

“Too many SME owners find themselves juggling funds to try to meet competing demands on their cash flow, essentially ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ a lot of the time. But more and more of those businesses are experiencing the benefits of an invoice finance facility which provides much more flexibility for the business.

“Not only does it ensure that invoicing is kept in order and up to date, but also releases funds when the business needs them, rather than being at the mercy of ever-increasing payment terms typically from large customers.

“The results of our Business Factors Index for Q4 2012 underlines the important role the UK’s SME community has in moving the country back to recovery, but that can only be possible if those businesses have the kind of flexible funding that will enable them to realise that ambition.”