Optimism grows as SMEs set out ambitious growth plans for the year ahead

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A QUARTER of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Yorkshire are looking to expand this year, according to new research.

The results, which are contained in Aviva’s bi-annual SME Pulse, suggest that SMEs are finding reasons to be cheerful, despite the economic uncertainty.

Eighty nine per cent of SMEs in the region, who were quizzed as part of the survey, said they were motivated by a desire to boost their revenues.

The Pulse also found that a “strong contingent of SMEs” (49 per cent) said they were happy with the size of their business.

The report by Aviva, the UK’s biggest insurer, reveals that nearly twice as many SMEs (30 per cent) diversified their business in the past six months to maintain business profitability, compared with 17 per cent during the same period in 2011.

David Bruce, commercial product manager at Aviva, said: “It’s promising to see such positive attitudes for the start of the year across the SME market.

“There is a growing focus on the sector in driving economic recovery, and this optimism is further substantiated by the number of SMEs with ambitious growth plans for 2013. These are the very businesses that lie at the heart of Britain’s economic recovery.

“The ‘Jubilympics’ year has certainly driven a renewed sense of optimism in the UK, and SMEs are carrying this positivity into 2013.

“The size and nature of small to medium-sized businesses allow owners to be more flexible and nimble in responding to market conditions.”

Aviva’s SME Pulse survey found that almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of firms with 26 to 100 employees reporting that lending schemes targeted at SMEs are the most important factor in influencing business confidence.

Mr Bruce added: “The latest data indicates the importance of wider macroeconomic measures in shaping business confidence.”

Research was conducted online by Redshift Research on behalf of Aviva.

Altogether, 500 SME owners were questioned in December 2012.