Small firms' confidence at highest level in three years
THE ECONOMIC conditions for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are improving but there is still a long way to go before prosperity returns, according to a new survey.
The latest Quarterly Business Trends Survey from the small firms group, ISME, shows that business confidence is now at its highest level for three years and that employment and exports have improved, albeit from a very weak base.
Those improvements however, have been offset by falls in investment levels. Two-thirds of all companies surveyed remain concerned about the future viability of their business.
Business confidence is now in net positive territory, with 28pc of businesses optimistic about their prospects as against 26pc who are negative. Exports are positive overall for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2007.
Employment has seen a very small increase with 13pc of firms employing more people compared to 7pc three months ago. Nevertheless, 46pc of respondents have cut employee numbers in the quarter.