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Business News 2009
Business News->Battling UK businesses see some unexpected upsides
Battling UK businesses see some unexpected upsides

9 Oct 2009

Happy business teamA surprising 61% of UK small businesses feel the recession has made their business more efficient, and experience other positives including a greater focus on customer service (34%), according to new research conducted as part of the Barclays Take One Small Step Campaign. The research reveals the unexpectedly mixed impact of the recession. While a perhaps unsurprising 43% of the UK’s businesses have seen their working hours increase, and 17% have seen recession-related redundancies, a quarter (25%) of local businesses are reporting improvements to their business strategy.

Steve Cooper, Managing Director for Barclays Local Business said: “This research gives us the clearest understanding yet as to how small businesses are coping with the recession and, clearly, businesses are finding the upside of adversity wherever they can. UK firms have taken a pragmatic approach by tackling head-on the big challenges such as improving their business strategy, increasing innovation and focusing on their employees. Lessons have been learnt and I am sure in some cases the hard way.”

Encouragingly, almost a quarter of local businesses surveyed (23%) believe they have not been affected by the recession. When asked to rank the potential impact of a raft of changes on their business rather than consider wage reductions or job losses, there was a clear focus on recovering debts and receiving prompt payment of invoices. A drop in fuel duty was actually seen as the change which would have the single biggest impact on businesses in the UK.

Cooper said: “Around thirty per cent [29%] of businesses claim the recession has made them chase late payments more vigorously, or prevented them from allowing suppliers to pay late. This chimes with what we know through the popularity of our CreditFocus service. Since we launched our service last year, it’s been used for hundreds of thousands of credit checks, which is one of the key ways that businesses prevent late payments.”

When asked how they would spend a hypothetical £100K cash injection:

  • 30 per cent of business owners said they would move or expand to new facilities, possibly taking advantage of low property prices
  • 25 per cent would focus on clearing debts
  • 22 per cent would love to increase their marketing spend

Regional figures reveal attitudes towards the recession in some of the UK’s largest towns and cities. Liverpool and Bolton overall felt least negatively impacted. In fact, 38 per cent claim either no ill effects or a positive experience of the recession. This is compared to Swansea and Cardiff where the figure drops to 14 and 18 per cent respectively.

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