Friday, October 11 12:07:08
SMEs expect further improvements in trading conditions over the coming year and say that employment prospects are the best since before the recession in 2007.
That's according to the latest Quarterly SME Business Trends Survey for Q3 from ISME, which also found that SMEs in general expect further improvements in trading conditions over the coming year.
The positive trends in 11 of 12 key business indicators show a continued and gradual improvement in the national economy.
The only indicator showing a decrease was current exports, which has shown a zig-zag profile recently, which dropped by seven points, however this is counterbalanced by a 63pc expectation of higher exports in the next 12 months.
Employment figures, both current and future are in the positive zone and record the best indicators since winter 2007, with net employment up to 6pc, reflecting the live register figures, while a net 15pc of employers expect to employ more in the next year. The two main areas of expected jobs growth are in exporting firms and services with a net 32pc and 16pc predicting more employment. Even in retail, which is still struggling, a net 5pc of employers expect to take on more staff in the coming year.
ISME CEO Mark Fielding said: "It is imperative that the budget, next Tuesday, does nothing to stifle the positive sentiment and trends in the indigenous SME sector. While the majority of SMEs continue to battle out of recession, the mindset is positive and cautiously expansionary. The main focus must remain on cost curtailment and any government budgetary intervention must not interfere with the gradual turnaround."
SMEs are showing more of an appetite for investment than they had in the previous quarter, with both current and future investment figures showing an increase to 26pc and 23pc. These indicators are showing a very positive trend and represent the optimistic feeling within the SME sector. Even retailers are posting an increase in investment in their businesses.