Feeling the pulse of business confidence

  • Pulse graphicThe recent news that the UK economy is in a double-dip recession makes dismal reading. The Prime Minister described the figures as ‘very very disappointing’ while the Labour leader Ed Miliband called them ‘catastrophic’.

    We asked some of our clients and contacts for their views. Victoria Sampson, a Partner with CooperBurnett in Tunbridge Wells, said that the news of a double-dip recession has "not affected the quiet confidence that my clients and I share on how the future will pan out".

    She continued: “When we first went into recession, the news had a huge impact on businesses and the way they operated. They aggressively reviewed their spend and plans whereas, this time round, having already gone through that exercise and having kept it under continual review, they are far more efficient in their set-up.”

    Pam Loch, Managing Partner, Loch Associates Employment Lawyers and Managing Director, HR Advise Me Limited (and President of the West Kent Chamber of Commerce and Industry), said that she had noticed a mixed reaction to confidence in the economy from her clients, contacts and suppliers.

    “There is still a great deal of caution and we have been involved in advising on restructurings again where businesses are aiming to reduce their headcount,” Pam explained. “However we do have many clients who are recruiting and recognising it could be a good time to expand through acquisitions or mergers rather than sitting still.”

    "There is no shortage of opportunity to present proposals at the present time" said Martin long of paid search specialist, Sugar Marketing. "Understandably, businesses want to make sure they are getting value for money, but business owners are looking to the future and doing what they believe they have to  do to grow - including investing in their people, their infrastructure and their marketing".

    Pam Loch added that while some business owners she has spoken to in her capacity as President of the West Kent Chamber are keen to expand their businesses, they simply can’t access the capital to do so – despite the bank base rate being the lowest it has been in decades.

    “The reluctance of financial institutions to lend to businesses due to economic uncertainty is quickly becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy in itself for a double dip recession,” she said.

    Pam added that many of her clients were still looking to reduce their overheads in response to rising costs.

    “The Government’s pledge to inject £75 billion into the economy is a timely boost to business confidence, but we do need even more measures put in place to help the SMEs who are at the heart of the economy,” she said.

    Victoria Sampson added: “My clients, in the main, have not been knocked in terms of confidence by the news and are concentrating on working hard and in a streamlined manner to ride this out.”

    Neil Edwards, Managing Director of The Marketing Eye, commented on the findings: 'Our clients represent a broad cross section of the local economy and their opinions are a reliable indicator of the times ahead.  Our own strategy is to invest to grow.  We are increasing our head count and expanding  our reach by establishing a presence in Thames Valley.  We recognise the risk, but believe the greater risk is to stand still".

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