UK businesses positive after ‘fast lane’ growth in turnover

Nearly
two-thirds of UK businesses have grown their turnover in the last 12 months,
with almost a quarter achieving ‘fast lane’ growth, according to research by
HSBC Bank.

HSBC
Bank’s 2003 Business life in the fast lane is one of the largest business surveys
ever undertaken, researching more than 20,000 UK businesses. It looks at all
sizes and sectors of business, and defines companies according to growth: fast
lane companies grew turnover by more than 20 per cent; middle lane by up to 20
per cent; companies in the inside lane saw no growth; and companies in reverse
experienced a decline in sales.

The
survey shows that despite the dot-com backlash, IT and electronic companies saw
greatest growth, along with professional services and construction firms.  Agriculture and manufacturing were worst
hit, although the outlook for these in 2004 is more promising.

Almost
half (47 per cent) of businesses are optimistic about future market conditions,
especially small businesses (with an annual turnover of up to £500,000).  IT, electronic and construction companies
remain optimistic, while those in distribution and manufacturing appear to be
more pessimistic, along with those with overseas interests, who blame the
strong pound.

More
than half of businesses say that having the most satisfied customers in the
market is a major priority for the next 12 months. Customer satisfaction is
also an important acquisition tool – more than 30 per cent of respondents
consider customer recommendation to be their best sales mechanism.

Alan
Keir, general manager, Commercial UK Banking, HSBC Bank, said: “The fastest
growing businesses are positive and ambitious about the future, looking for
substantial growth in the short and long-term. 
As a result, they recognise the need to plan beyond one year, both in
terms of how they will develop the business and also in the help that might be
needed from the bank to realise their ambitions.”

www.ukbusiness.hsbc.com.

By Quentin Reade

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