Almost three quarters of North West SMEs said they plan to make a significant investment in their business in the next year. On average, North West SMEs are set to invest around 7 per cent of their turnover back into their businesses. Based on official figures, this could be worth around £8.1bn to the North West economy.
This investment is being driven by their confidence in the wider UK economy with 72 per cent believing it will grow and provide a strong environment for their own growth prospects.
While most industrial sectors showed signs of confidence in themselves and the economy to grow, agricultural, manufacturing and construction businesses appear to be the most bullish.
While the survey suggests a mood of confidence and ambition amongst the majority of SME owners, it was also recognised that a number of barriers to growth still exist. The identification of new markets and customers is the most pressing issue for around nine per cent of North West businesses. Seven per cent feel a lack of available finance is holding them back and around five per cent believe lack of confidence is still a barrier.
Phil Tarimo, Head of Business and Private Banking at Yorkshire Bank in the North West, who commissioned the research, said: “An increasing level of confidence is playing a critical role in fuelling the recovering economy, and our ongoing research indicates that as business optimism returns, the SME segment in the North West is actively preparing to change up a gear to take advantage.
“Compared to this time last year, we believe an increasing number of businesses are now preparing themselves for growth. New staff, premises and equipment are the tools which will allow businesses to create that growth.
“The message we are hearing from the majority of North West SMEs is they feel there will be opportunities for them to grow in the year ahead, and we are ready to support those growth ambitions.