Survey of SME marketplace – of concern for the UK economy?

November 21, 2022

21 November 2022: The British Chambers of Commerce (“BCC”) have published their economic survey for the third quarter of 2022 which includes responses from more than 5,200 firms. Of this sample, approximately 92% are within BRI’s chosen market of small and medium-sized enterprises (“SME”). It must be noted that these results are prior to Kwasi Kwarteng’s “mini-budget” (together with its subsequent reversal) and the raising of the base rate by the Bank of England by 0.75% to 3.00% (the largest single increase for over three decades). Whilst more recent issues have not been taken into account, it is striking that confidence has significantly reduced since the BCC’s previous survey.

Concerns over macro-economic factors within the survey included inflation (84% advised this to be of increasing concern) and over one-third were worried about future interest rate rises. For businesses importing raw materials or products from overseas, the fluctuating value of Sterling (particularly the reduction in value in the immediate aftermath of the mini-budget) will have made budgeting and forecasting together with the setting of prices particularly challenging. In addition, this survey identified that the sectors that have been particularly hard hit are those within retail/wholesale and hospitality. By way of example, 71% of hospitality businesses advised that they are not operating at full capacity. It will be interesting to see whether upcoming major sporting events can provide some respite for this sector in the current quarter.

For approximately 40 years, BRI has primarily worked in the SME marketplace providing specialist advice to small and medium-sized businesses. BRI recognises that each business (together with the impact on key stakeholders) has its own unique set of circumstances and that advice must be tailored and bespoke on this basis. We recognise that the financial position of the company and that of the directors and/or members are often inextricably linked. Our advice will be open and honest irrespective of whether there is any fee for BRI.

We are committed to rescuing a business where possible so, if your business is either struggling now or you think it will be in the coming months, please seek professional advice early. BRI’s initial meetings are free of charge on a no obligation basis. This gives directors and owners the best possible chance to rescue their business in collaboration with their chosen professional advisors.