SMEs in the South are poised for growth in 2014

The survey suggests that 98 per cent of SMEs in the south of England will invest in growing their business in 2014. UK-wide, the survey suggests that more than 4.5million SMEs have some plans to invest in growing their business in 2014.

The survey, from Clydesdale Bank, also indicates that rather than looking to maintain the status quo or cutting back, keeping pace with demand was driving investment among the businesses in the south of the country, with 57 per cent citing this as being influential in their decision to invest in growth.

Confidence is another major influence on the decision to invest with over half of respondents citing optimism as an important factor in their decision making. Only 11 per cent said that a lack of confidence was a barrier to investing in growth, while over half said there are no barriers at all for them to investment.

SME investment in the next year could also be a significant contributor to southern England and UK economic growth, according to the survey’s results.

The Clydesdale Bank research indicates that south of England SMEs plan to invest an average of 11 per cent of turnover on growth. Across the UK, based on official figures, this could be worth up to £160bn, or £34k per business, to the UK economy.

While the survey provided an overall picture of confidence and investment, there was recognition that some factors could potentially be barriers to growth and investment for some south of England SMEs.

Nearly a quarter of those surveyed felt that the availability of funding was an issue for them; while 14 per cent said finding new customers was their greatest challenge.

Andrew Merrifield, Clydesdale Bank’s regional director for the south of England, said: “These are encouraging results and echo recent official growth figures. They suggest many SMEs in the south of England are at the point where they feel more certain about investing in their businesses. As the majority of UK companies are small and medium sized businesses, this has to be good for the economy as a whole.

“It’s important that we recognise and understand that there are still barriers to growth for some businesses. Access to funding has changed across the market place, but it is available to well-managed businesses with strong plans for growth.”