Business investment intentions strong despite economic uncertainty

BUSINESSES in the East of England continue to feel affected by economic uncertainty and market volatility but are more confident about their own prospects than that of the wider economy over the next twelve months, says Clydesdale Bank.

According to new research by Clydesdale Bank released today (September 12, 2011), over half (59%) of the businesses questioned in the region expect to increase turnover in the year ahead, despite just over a quarter (28%) being confident the economy will return to healthy growth.

Despite concerns about the economy, 39% are planning to invest at least five per cent of turnover back into their business in the next 12 months with the leading investment priorities being new staff (39%), training (30%), new equipment (29%), and developing new products and services (25%).

The most pressing concerns for businesses in the East of England are fluctuating fuel prices and rising corporation tax, with just over a quarter (26%) and more than a fifth (22%) citing these issues as the key factors in their businesses’ future growth respectively.

Martin Guildford, Managing Partner of Clydesdale Bank’s Peterborough Financial Solutions Centre, said: “Businesses in this region are clearly more confident about their own prospects and in control of their own destiny, than they are for the wider economy, despite the impact of rising fuel and materials prices. It is inevitable that there will continue to be bumps in the road to economic recovery, but UK businesses should continue to focus on their own strengths.”

Across the industries, IT and telecoms businesses appear to be the most confident with more than half (51%) expecting increased turnover of at least five per cent in the next 12 months. Healthcare and education businesses are the least confident with only 32% and 23% respectively expecting similar growth. This is mirrored in their investment intentions, with 59% of IT and telecoms businesses planning to invest at least five per cent of their turnover back into the business compared to only 27% of education-focused businesses.

Martin continued: “Our commitment to supporting trading businesses is stronger than ever and we continue to attract growing numbers of owner-managed small and medium sized businesses plus mid-corporates. Good businesses with strong management and robust business plans will generally find support. This is evidenced by the fact that we recently met our promise, three months ahead of schedule, to deliver our two-year pledge to advance £10 billion of new lending to business and personal customers.”