Small businesses upbeat about next 12 months

Ireland’s small business community is upbeat about its prospects for the next 12 months, with most respondents to a survey saying they expect further improvements in trading conditions in the coming year.

The latest quarterly SME Business Trends survey, covering the third quarter of the year, from sectoral lobby group ISME details positive movement in 11 of the 12 confidence indicators. A reading of 15% — up from 5% in the previous quarter — of firms expecting to increase employment in the next year marks the best figure in this regard since the end of 2007.

ISME chief 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 turnaround.”

The last quarter saw a fall in the percentage of SMEs exporting goods — from 29% to 22% — but this was the only indicator to show a decline. Profitability expectations went from 0% in the second quarter to 14% at the end of September, putting the rating in positive mode for the first time since the beginning of the economic downturn.

The survey also shows SMEs have increased appetite for investment — the level of firms investing in their business is up from 16% to 26% on a quarter-by-quarter basis, with the level of firms planning future investment up from 20% to 23%.


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