Close Brothers survey reveals forecast-beating growth for East Anglia’s SMEs

Mike Randall, chief executive of Close Brothers Asset Finance.

Mike Randall, chief executive of Close Brothers Asset Finance. - Credit: Archant

Growth in revenue within the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector in East Anglia over the past year has beaten expectations, according to a new study.

More than half (57%) of the SMEs surveyed in the region for the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer said their revenue had increased over the last 12 months, compared with just over one third (35%) which forecast growth a year ago.

The Business Barometer, a quarterly survey of SME owners and managers from a range of sectors across the UK, found confidence concerning the next 12 months to be equally high, with 57% of SMEs in East Anglia optimistic about their growth prospects for the year ahead.

Mike Randall, chief executive of Close Brothers Asset Finance, which commissions the survey, said: “The Office for National Statistics states that the UK recovery is progressing faster than anticipated, and our figures seem to suggest that small and medium sized businesses are really benefiting from improved trading conditions.

“More than half of the businesses we surveyed in East Anglia report up to 10% growth in revenue, while 41% cite a jump of between 10% to 20% in the last year.”

The latest survey also reveals that nearly half (49%) of respondents in the region plan to invest in their business in the next 12 months, although there are signs that access to finance remains an issue for some firms wishing to expand.

“It’s very important that these businesses plan ahead to ensure they can make the most of an increasingly prosperous economy,” added Mr Randall.

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“In particular, these firms must be proactive with their financial planning. The Business Barometer shows that 12% of those surveyed in East Anglia say that a lack of finance is currently holding them back from seizing new business opportunities.

“This is somewhat concerning as without the necessary working capital, growth will be very hard to achieve. It’s essential that businesses explore a broad range of funding options to ensure that they succeed in meeting their forecasts for next year.”

The Business Barometer survey was conducted by GMI during September and involved more than 700 SMEs