Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 6°C

ESTD 1874 Search

East Anglia: Many of region’s SMEs still in ‘survival’ mode despite upturn in recruitment plans, survey shows

11:29 17 March 2014

Prof Robert Blackburn, director at the Small Business Research Centre at Kingston University.

Prof Robert Blackburn, director at the Small Business Research Centre at Kingston University.

Archant

The recovery for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in East Anglia remains fragile, despite the likely creation of 40,000 new jobs in the sector this year, according to a new report.

shares

The “Collaborate UK 2014” study, carried out for distribution firm CitySprint, found that 19% of SMEs in the East region expect to hire more staff this year while 11% expect to reduce their workforce.

The net balance of 8% equates to around 40,360 extra jobs over the course of the year, a figure beaten by only three other English regions London, the South East and the South West.

However, more than half of SMEs in the East (52%) said that “survival” remained their top priority, with nearly a quarter (23%) saying that increased competition had been an obstacle to success over the last 12 months, the highest in the UK.

Looking forward, more than half (51%) of SMEs in the East are looking to grow their customer base nationally, the largest number in the UK and significantly higher than the national average of 41%.

More than half of SMEs in the region (55%) are also considering diversification into new sectors or industries this year in order to achieve growth, compared with a national average of 43%.

However, growing the customer base internationally is seen as a priority by only about one is six SMEs in the East (16%), compared with one in five for the country as a whole.

Prof Robert Blackburn, director at the Small Business Research Centre at Kingston University, said: “We are starting to see SMEs begin the shift from a ‘survive’ to a ‘thrive’ mode, but it’s clear that a recovery is yet to be felt across the whole SME business population – we are far from out of the doldrums.”

The survey also found that SMEs in the East are more inclined that those elsewhere to “go it alone”. They would like to cut the number of business partners and suppliers they work with to nine, the lowest in the UK little more than half the national average of 16 half the number they worked with last year.

When asked what the biggest barrier to collaboration was, a third (33%) of SMEs in the East admitted to being worried that others might steal their ideas, a figure second only to Wales.

However, Patrick Gallagher,chief executive of CitySprint, said that businesses which sought to work collaboratively would reap the benefit.

“Rather than waiting for opportunities to come to them, SMEs in the East are innovating and looking beyond their back garden for growth.

“Their tenacious spirit, which helped weather the downturn, is fuelling their ambitions to expand, but the benefits of working closer with other businesses will far outweigh any benefits of going it alone.”

shares

0 comments

Paul Rous, of Bruisyard Hall, has launched a tech startup venture with Mark Pearson

A Suffolk entrepreneur has teamed up with a top technology investor, who made millions from a website he created with just £300, to help finance new ideas.

Jeremy Goulding, front, left, chief executive of Wheatley, is congratulated by Innovatioin Martlesham chair Ian Buxton on winning the first Innovationi Martlesham competition. Also pictured, from left, are Paul O'Brien of BT, Jane Bromley of Wheatley, Mike Ward of Wheatley and Mohamed Abdel-Maguid from University Campus Suffolk.

Software company Wheatley has been named winner of a new competition staged by Innovation Martlesham, the cluster of hi-tech companies based at BT’s Adastral Park research site, near Ipswich.

Suffolk cider and vinegar maker Aspall was named Business of the Year at last year's EADT Business Awards.  From left, Tom McGarry of EDF Energy, Barry Chevallier Guild of Aspall and Sarah Howard,  of SuffolkChamber.  	
Picture: Lucy Taylor

There is now less than a week to go to enter the 2015 East Anglian Daily Times Business Awards.

Total unemployment in the UK has reached a near seven year low, official figures showed today.
Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Unemployment in the UK has continued to fall and a record 31million people are in now work, according to the final labour market figures before the General Election.

The Nestle Purina plant in Sudbury.

KitKat, Nescafe and Shredded Wheat maker Nestlé said today that first quarter sales had been boosted by an earlier Easter, but with growth dented by currency changes after the Swiss central bank’s shock decision to lift a cap on the franc.

The B&Q store on the North Quay Retail Park in Lowestoft which is closing in January 2016. Picture: James Bass

DIY chain B&Q has announced its Lowestoft store will close at the start of next year, with reportedly 40 jobs being lost.

The team at Ipswich-based software company IJYI.

A start-up software business in Suffolk has secured a place on a Government panel allowing it to bid for the delivery of cloud technology services across the public sector.

Bury town centre on market day.

People are being asked for their views on Bury St Edmunds town centre to find out how it is performing and any improvements that can be made.

WH Smith today reported a strong first half for its travel stores.

WH Smith grew sales at its travel-based stores amid a surge in air passengers while its high street network saw a decline due to a tough books market, half-year results showed today.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages