Survey reveals confidence returning at SMEs

SMALL and medium-sized businesses in Yorkshire are reporting an increase in confidence over the past three months, according to the latest economic study by Bibby Financial Services.

The Business Factors Index, published quarterly, has revealed that businesses in Yorkshire saw increasing levels of activity during the third quarter of 2012 and that 44 per cent say their business is performing better today than 12 months ago, compared to the index national average of 26 per cent.

The index, which was compiled using data from Bibby’s 4,000 customers and a separate survey of 450 independent businesses, of which 35 were from Yorkshire, also showed that 54 per cent of SMEs in Yorkshire said they have seen an increase in lapsed customers returning over quarter three, compared to 37 per cent in quarter two and 43 per cent year-on-year.

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Meanwhile, 37 per cent are reporting an increase in staff motivation, compared to 22 per cent in quarter two and 27 per cent year-on-year. Just under 50 per cent of businesses in Yorkshire have applied for external funding in the last 12 months, compared to 30 per cent in quarter two. More than 50 per cent of SME owners in Yorkshire invested in their business, an increase of 29 per cent year-on-year.

A separate survey of small business owners, commissioned by Viking, which questioned 2,000 business owners and managing directors, including 150 in Yorkshire and the Humber, also painted an optimistic picture. Two thirds reported they anticipate growth of their business or are expecting to maintain current income levels in the months ahead.

The report found that 45 per cent of businesses in the region have seen a rise in the number of start-ups in the last five years. Meanwhile, half of the region’s small business owners reported that it is harder to recruit, given their size, and 61 per cent said that there was insufficient advice available for start-ups.

John O’Keeffe, commercial director at Viking, said: “It is encouraging to see entrepreneurs and small businesses in Yorkshire and Humber reporting a positive outlook for the future, in what has been a challenging few years for all businesses.”