9 in 10 SMEs: We’re Growing or Stable

Nearly nine in every 10 small and medium-sized business in Northern Ireland say they are either growing or stable, while more than half think employment levels and the region’s economy will improve in the year ahead.

They were responding to a poll on behalf of Bank of Ireland UK to launch its enterprise week running from May 16 to 23.

During the week hundreds of companies and agri-firms will promote their business by show casing products and services in branches across Northern Ireland, while the bank will host more than 20 networking events, seminars and clinics with business leaders and experts.

Other key findings in the poll were that 68 per cent of SMEs are optimistic about growth in the second half of the year while 21 per cent cited increased demand from customers as their biggest opportunity for 2014 and 9 per cent plan to expand into new markets.

Bank of Ireland UK’s regional head of business & corporate banking Ian Sheppard said: “Confidence, ambition and growth are the overwhelming findings in this survey – and our enterprise week is designed to support and en-courage businesses to grow.

“Expectations about growth are being reflected in the increased demand for lending that we are seeing from all sectors of the economy.

“Our ambition this year is to exceed the £500 million lending approvals we made in 2013 – and we’re well placed to achieve that.”

Asked in the survey how banks could play a role in enabling enterprise in the north, the top responses were: providing business start-up packages, promotion of business products and services in branch, access to networking events, insight into local economies and provision of credit.

Mr Sheppard said: “These findings correspond with the demand we’re seeing from new and existing small businesses. we opened over 3,300 new small business accounts in the year to January, more than a fifth for completely new ventures.”

Source: irishnews.com