UK business leaders expecting ‘summer of sweat’
A survey of UK small and medium-sized business leaders has found that ongoing uncertainty over their near-term economic prospects is putting pressure on them to work more hours for less gain this summer.
The survey, commissioned byAXABusiness Insurance, found that
nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of respondents lacked optimism over
the growth of their business within the next six monthsand only
just over one-third (36 per cent) are forecasting a greater profit
this year compared with last year.
Moreover, 40 per cent of respondents suggested they would not be
taking any sort of holiday this summer and a majority are expecting
to earn the same (48 per cent) or less (29 per cent) this year, in
comparison with last year.
Commenting on the findings, Managing Director, Direct &
Partnerships,AXACommercial Insurance, Darrell Sansom said:
"Entrepreneurs and small business leaders are the backbone of any
economic system. Their relentless spirit and passion provides much
of the energy fueling the UK economy, so it's alarming that such a
large proportion are so downbeat over their short-term business
prospects. Much like the world's athletes gathering in the country
this summer, the UK business community is readying itself for a
very competitive trading time. They'll be working even harder and
with less resources to chase the growth opportunities that are out
Continued economic uncertainty across the Eurozone and
Government austerity measures were cited as the two biggest drivers
behind respondent's lack of optimism, with most suggesting low
interest rates, the London Olympics and other milestone events
having no effect on their economic outlooks.
Respondents also demonstrated a cautious approach to managing
recruitment, with only nine percent suggesting they were planning
on hiring new staff by the end of the year. Of those with no hiring
plans (91 per cent), most believed they won't require the extra
resource (55 per cent).
Asked about their capital investment plans, three-quarters of
respondents suggested they are not planning on investing in any new
equipment or resources this year. Of those planning an investment
(25 per cent), a large number suggested they were purchasing
something they didn't have in the business already (36 per cent) or
to fulfill existing demand (24 per cent).
Sansom continued: "A lot has been done to keep the UK SME
community afloat over the past few years, but this survey is
suggesting that business leaders are lacking the support they need
to expand their businesses. Our Business Guardian Angel website,
for instance, was launched to arm small businesses with the
practical tools and knowledge needed to enable growth during these
fragile trading conditions, whilst managing risks affecting their
business throughout the process."
The survey was conducted as part of AXA Business Insurance's
Business Guardian Angel www.businessguardianangel.com
resource for UK small businesses, and in support of the launch of
its real-time Optimism Index - a live barometer of UK business
sentiment. As part of the launch,AXA is offering participants the
chance to win an iPad 3, simply by registering and submitting their
business outlooks. There's one up for grabs every month between now
and the end of the year.
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About AXA Business Insurance
AXA is one of the largest general insurers in the UK and
underwrites a broad range of products for individuals and
businesses.AXABusiness Insurance offers business insurance for sole
traders, the self-employed and small businesses through its website
www.axainsurance.com/business and is designed to make buying
insurance fast, secure, convenient and easy-to-use. Small
businesses can choose Public Liability, Employers' Liability and
Professional Indemnity insurance and can tailor cover to their own
AXAUK is a part of theAXAGroup. TheAXAGroup is a worldwide
leader in insurance and asset management serving 101 million
clients. It is ranked the largest insurer in the world by net
written premium and the top insurance brand globally.
In the UKAXAoperates through a number of business units
Lines,AXAPPPhealthcare,AXAIreland and an independent distribution
business Bluefin.AXAemploys over 13,000 staff in the UK.
For full year 2011,IFRSrevenues amounted to Euro 86.1 billion
andIFRSunderlying earnings to Euro 3.9 billion.AXAhad Euro 1,079
billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2011.
TheAXAordinary share is listed on compartment A of
Euronext Paris under the ticker symbol CS (ISIN FR0000120628 -
Bloomberg: CS FP - Reuters: AXAF.PA).AXA's American Depositary
Share is also quoted on the OTC QX platform under the ticker symbol
TheAXAGroup is included in the main internationalSRIindexes,
such as Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and FTSE4GOOD.