A SURVEY of Scotland’s small firms shows many expect the economy will remain in the doldrums for at least five years, despite signs that business picked up in the final quarter of last year.
Research by invoice finance provider Bibby showed that almost a third think the economy will not fully recover from the shock of the financial crisis until 2018 at the earliest.
That is despite the fact that 45 per cent of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) enjoyed a rise in the number of new customers during the fourth quarter of 2012, up from just 21 per cent a year earlier.
Enquiries were also up, and 39 per cent of firms surveyed saw an increase in orders, compared to just 20 per cent the year before.
Bibby said real signs of economic recovery were starting to show in Scotland, as nearly a quarter of SMEs said they were taking on staff. In the final months of 2011, that figure had stood at just 4 per cent.
Calum Williamson of Bibby Financial Services in Scotland said the firm was encouraged by the results of its research, as it underlined the key role being played by the UK’s SME community in moving the country back to recovery.
Despite the pessimism of some firms in regards to the wider outlook, 43 per cent expected their own business to grow during 2013.