Firms urged to expand as recovery takes hold

SMALL businesses should be gearing up to capitalise on the economic upturn, according to two of Scotland’s biggest trade bodies, as a raft of indicators point to a return to growth.

A raft of indicators point to a return to growth. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
A raft of indicators point to a return to growth. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland and the Scottish Council for Development & Industry (SCDI) are today urging firms to dust off expansion programmes and “develop plans to grow with the economy”.

Their call comes ahead of Thursday’s third annual national business convention, which the two trade bodies have organised in Edinburgh.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Mark Carney is also expected to use his maiden speech as Bank of England governor on Wednesday in Nottingham to call on large companies to start investing their stockpiles of cash by repeating his guidance on low interest rates.

On Friday, the Office for National Statistics revised its second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) reading, with the latest figure suggested that the UK’s economic output grew by 0.7 per cent between April and June, up from the original 0.6 per cent estimate.

Andy Willox, the FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “Over the past few years, faced with tough trading conditions, a number of Scottish small businesses will have shelved their plans for business growth, expansion or innovation.

“This week, we’re encouraging those firms to seek out opportunities and modernise their plans.

“Not every business will aspire to becoming a multinational, nor should they, but every business has the capacity to produce more, to be more efficient or to provide a better service.”

Willox said he hoped the event would help small businesses thrive by learning from experts in their field, and anticipating regulatory, economic and technological changes.

Vince McKeown, SCDI’s director for membership and partnership services, said small and big organisations in the public and private sectors had been forced to change in the face of unprecedented challenges in recent years.

He said markets were now more global and competition more intense, but that the changed landscape also offered opportunities for those with determination and vision.

“SCDI believes entrepreneurial communities, such as those fostered by events like the National Business Convention, help inspire ambitious and innovative Scottish businesses to grow,” McKeown said.

“If Scotland is to reach its full potential, then we must build on these foundations, capitalise on our assets, infrastructure and networks and work towards utilising growth.”

Figure released by the Bank of Scotland earlier this month suggested business confidence was rising, with firms taking on staff.

The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) edged back in July slightly from June’s 73-month high, but economic output north of the Border still rose.

Bank of Scotland chief economist Donald MacRae said: “The recovery will become even more embedded if firms build on this ten-month run of positive PMIs by increasing investment.”