Scottish firms shift from ‘survival’ into growth

BUSINESSES in Scotland are less worried about survival and more focused on growth than a year ago despite the continuing tough trading environment.

A survey by Santander Corporate & Commercial found 35 per cent of firms with a turnover of £20 million or less cited organic growth as their immediate priority in 2013, a three-fold increase on the previous year.

In addition, the number of business owners looking to start up a further venture rose five-fold to 12 per cent.

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“Survival” is still the primary short-term priority for 60 per cent of firms, though this was down from 69 per cent in 2012.

Looking at revenue growth, the average company expects to boost sales by 117 per cent within the next five years. This compares to 91 per cent in 2012, but is not as optimistic as the 194 per cent predicted in 2011.

Santander director Graham Silcock said many Scottish businesses remained cautious about the trading environment, with 68 per cent saying it was their biggest barrier to growth.

Access to capital is seen as an increasing challenge, with nearly one-third of firms reporting difficulties in sourcing finance.

“However, our latest growth survey reveals a more optimistic five-year growth outlook compared to 2012,” Silcock added.

“It has also found that, since 2011, when our first report was published, more SMEs in the UK are looking at acquisitions to spur growth as well as investing in organic expansion, which we believe is positive news for the UK economy. Figures that indicate firms are increasing efforts to hire new staff are also to be welcomed.”