East Anglia: ‘Encouraging’ response by firms to uncertain outlook

MORE than one in four firms in East Anglia remain hopeful about the future despite the tough economic climate, according to a new survey.

And although nearly half of the firms in the region which took part in the study believe recovery is two years away, one in five say business is now better than last year.

The findings are part of the Business Factors Index for the third quarter of 2011 published by Bibby Financial Services.

The findings from the index, a quarterly report which tracks turnover levels among 3,200 of Bibby Financial Services’ UK clients alongside the outlook of 450 business owners across the UK, shows many firms in the region are positive about the future.

In the survey, 26% of business owners said they were “hopeful for the future” and 21% reported that business is currently better than it was this time last year, although 47% think recovery is two years away.

The report highlights a number of different measures being implemented by firms in East Anglia in response to the current uncertainty with more than half (57%) cutting costs, 13% increasing prices and 40% managing suppliers more carefully.

However, more than a third (35%) of businesses now say they are seeing lapsed customers returning, which is up 10% from the previous quarter, and one in 10 firms (11%) are taking on more staff.

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Sharon Wiltshire, managing director for Bibby Financial Services in East Anglia, said: “It is encouraging to see such positive results for the region during this difficult time in the post-recession period. This shows that businesses in East Anglia have worked hard to maintain their trade and made some good decisions throughout the year.

“However there are still some concerns among areas of the business community as 23%, almost a quarter, have said they are only just surviving.

“What is clear is the need for businesses to ensure they have control over their cashflow and are able to plan for the next six to 12 months with a degree of confidence about how the firm is going to be funded.”

She added: “Our message to businesses in East Anglia who are concerned about the future is to act now and explore the different funding options that are available and start to build on the positive signs we have seen emerging this last quarter.”

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