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Exporter confidence strong for businesses

The number of businesses reporting improved export sales increased in Q1 2017, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The BCC/DHL trade confidence index, a measure of the volume of trade documentation, increased by 5.5% to 126.55 – up 9.06% from Q1 2016.

Manufacturers reporting improved export sales surged from +16% to +26%, while services reporting export sales rose from +8% to +10%.

Looking at expectations over the next 12 months, the BCC found:

  • confidence among manufacturers edged up to +44%, while those in services climbed to 39%
  • improvement of profitability rose to +28% for services and to 32% for manufacturers.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general at BCC, said:

“Confidence among exporters is strong, which is a timely reminder that businesses are doing their best to ignore political noise around them and focus on the success of their own operations.

Ian Wilson, CEO at DHL Express UK and Ireland, added:

“As a facilitator of international trade, we’ve seen our customers embrace the short-term benefits that came with the fall in the value of the pound. 

“However, this report demonstrates that whilst businesses are confident, they are not complacent – with currency fluctuations a lingering concern for exporters.”

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Generation X owners cite business fears

More than a third (36%) of Generation X business owners (those between 31 and 50 years old) believe cashflow problems will have an adverse effect on their growth plans in the next 12 months.

Out of 400 business owners surveyed by Lloyds Bank, 31% fear increased competition and managing family commitments will affect their plans for growth.

26% expect the challenge of Brexit to impact on their business, compared to 18% of Millennials and 16% of Baby Boomers.

Further findings:

  • Generation X business owners are least likely to prepare for the worst-case scenario, with 61% having no exit plan in place
  • those who do have a plan in place, 14% are more likely to close their business, sell to a competitor (5%) or sell their contact list (5%).

Jo Harris, managing director at Lloyds Bank, said:

“Generation X entrepreneurs are ambitious and have strong growth expectations for the future of their businesses.

“However, in practice, we know that many find it a real struggle to manage their work/life balance and even more regard it as a barrier to growth. 

“Business owners are not alone and a range of support is available, including mentoring, which can help to make lasting changes to get a better work/life balance and deal with other challenges they face.”

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