Revival now the focus of UK chief executives

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UK chief executives are focusing on revival rather than survival, according to a new survey.

Ninety three per cent of UK chief executives are confident about their own company’s revenue prospects over the coming 12 months, up from 78 per cent in 2013, PwC’s 17th Annual Global CEO Survey concluded.

UK business leaders are significantly more confident than the average global CEO. They are also more confident than the vast majority of their European counterparts.

UK CEOs are more confident about the outlook for growth in the global economy than most of their peers, with 61 per cent thinking it will improve in the year ahead, up from just one in 10 last year. Some two thirds of UK CEOs (65 per cent) plan to increase headcount in their business this year, up from 45 per cent in 2013, and considerably higher than the global average of 50 per cent.

Only business leaders in Taiwan, Korea and the Middle East are more likely to recruit.

Ian Morrison, PwC’s Yorkshire & North East regional leader, said: “The sharp recovery in confidence in the UK and across Yorkshire, may partly reflect the length and depth of the downturn, with businesses’ pent-up growth potential finally being released.

“Inevitably, any upturn also brings its own challenges, requiring new strategies to make businesses fit for the future in a fiercely competitive market.

“Companies are moving beyond the private optimism they’ve been expressing in the boardroom to real activity in the market.”

While most UK business leaders aim to increase jobs, almost three-quarters of UK CEOs also intend to implement further cost reductions in the coming year. It appears the shift to a growth agenda does not mark the end of austerity for businesses.

Mr Morrison added: “Our findings raise concerns that renewed growth at home may see UK businesses focus on short-term domestic opportunities, and pay too little attention to the longer-term potential of new growth markets.

“At a time when, for example, China is rebalancing its economy towards consumption and imports, UK business needs to raise its sights and forge new relationships, or face a tough battle to regain lost ground.

“We have many world class businesses across sectors ranging from retail to business services to speciality engineering, which are ideally placed to compete on the international stage.”

UK CEOs think the disruptive effects of technology have much further to run. Eighty two per cent rated technological advances as having the greatest impact on their business over the next five years.