Two reports paint conflicted picture of Scottish SMEs

A sharply contrasting picture of prospects for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) emerged from two reports out yesterday.

Zurich: SME business risk 'at highest level in two years' Picture: AP

New research from challenger bank Aldermore said Scottish SMEs are planning for future growth, with 45 per cent expecting to hire staff over the next five years, and just under 40 per cent planning to launch new products.

Aldermore’s report said comfortably more than one in two Scottish small businesses (57 per cent) were planning to increase their marketing efforts to grow. “The new data shows SMEs are proactively looking for opportunities to grow over the next five years,” the bank said.

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However, Zurich, the insurance giant, claimed in a separate report that British SME business risk was “at its highest level in two years”.

More than half (56 per cent) of Britain’s small businesses were voicing concerns over the current economic climate, according to Zurich’s latest SME Risk Index.

The index is now sitting at 40.18 points, indicating the highest level of risk to the UK’s small businesses since Q1 2014 and a 5 per cent increase in the last six months. The survey of some 1,000 SME owners also shows that almost two in five (39 per cent) believe their business faces more risk now than compared with 12 months ago, with 8 per cent saying they have considered closing down.

Anne Griffiths, head of Zurich’s SME business, said: “Figures from the last half of the year show a worrying increase in concern about business risk among SMEs.”