The Hitachi Business Survey

hitachi sme surveyHitachi Business Barometer Survey

The survey asked 1139 small businesses across the UK what their outlook was for the future. This is the last major survey to come out pre Brexit. The survey doesn’t look backwards, it looks at what the SME sector thinks of the next three months.

The survey findings were compared to the same period 12 months earlier. In terms of growth or contraction this is what the SMEs surveyed thought:

Q2 2016Q1 2016Q4 2015
Modest growth/ Significant expansion42%39%40%
Stay the same44%47%46%
Contract / Struggle11%13%12%

Viewed quickly it looks like fairly similar figures period after period. However if you start to play with the numbers you see that;

  • 86% of small businesses are overall positive about the next three months
  • 11% have a negative outlook

Where the figures get more interesting is when you compare the results now to those taken in the same period of 2015. The big thing here is that the results vary nationwide and not in the geographies you may think;

hitachi business barometer









Compared to the same period in 2015, business confidence has changed;

  • North – Up 1%
  • Midlands – Down 9%
  • East – Up 17%
  • London – Down 1%
  • South – Down 6%
  • Wales – Down 3%
  • Scotland – No change

One of the main drivers for the positivity from our friends in the East and North is that agricultural businesses are more bouyant and have more plans to expand. The property focus of London and The South is pretty much expected to be slightly down.

Gavin Wraith-Carter, General Manager at Hitachi Capital Business Finance commented that;

“Small businesses are the core of the UK economy, so it is encouraging to see that they are still standing tall at a time when many larger organisations are questioning the likely impact of Brexit and other broader economic trends. The last 12-months – with a General Election, a Scottish Referendum and now the Brexit vote – has been a period when any smaller enterprise has had every excuse to react to uncertainty by being cautious on venture planning. The welcome news is that SME confidence for the last year now shows signs of upward movement”


Do you agree? Are things looking up for the SME?

The next survey due out in October will be interesting to see as we will know what the outlook is post Brexit. That said, where will interest rates be by then? What else will have changed? It is often said that the SME is the most bullish and pragmatic of business sectors, maybe now is the time for that attitude to shine. I hope so.

By Dave Farmer

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