Small firms taking on more staff

Small firms in Britain are now showing positive sales performances for the first time in two years and new business starts continue to rise, according to the latest Quarterly Survey of Small Business in Britain from The Open University Business School.

Small firms in Britain are now showing positive sales performances for the first time in two years and new business starts continue to rise, according to the latest Quarterly Survey of Small Business in Britain from The Open University Business School.

With the exception of small retailers, a balance of small firms in all sectors reports an improved sales performance, says the report.  Small firms are also generally more positive about prospects for sales in the next quarter, with hotels and restaurants being the only sector not expecting any improvement. In the last survey conducted by the OU Business School, hotels and restaurants reported the poorest sales performance (down 30% over the previous 12 months); though it remains negative, this quarter’s figure has improved (down 4%).

In terms of employment, small firms remain fairly static, the report says.  However, for the first time in two years, small manufacturers are reporting increases in employment (13% up over the last 12 months). However, there is considerable regional difference with small firms in the South West having the most positive employment balances (up 12%) while those in the North East demonstrated the sharpest decline (down 13%).

The economic climate remained by a large margin the top business problem reported by small firms (51%), followed by cash flow (33%) and government regulations (30%).

The research also found that less than one in three firms reported any spending on their environmental impact over the last year, with relatively larger businesses, with 20 or more employees, taking the lead in this area.





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