Confidence on the rise

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One in three companies in the south west have seen performance lifted by “sheer hard work”, according to new research among the region’s leading managing directors and business owners.

The survey of more than 60 MDs of the region’s top performing businesses was conducted by business forum Beacon South West. Findings show a third (32%) reporting a rise in profits, and fewer firms citing tough trading conditions – a figure down from 16% to 11% since the start of 2010.

In addition, the survey shows an increase from 30% to 37% since January in the number of firms feeling “bullish” about their business in the coming months, but do feel that it is the actions of their competitors such as price cutting, which is keeping 63% of the region’s firms on their toes.

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Fluctuating exchange rates are also having an impact on a further 50% of businesses. Overall, this research reflects optimism for growth and recovery among enterprises in the south west as we move into the second half of the year.

Sue Baker, project director for Beacon South West, said: “Whilst south west businesses appear to be planning optimistic strategies for growth in 2010, they are still keeping their feet firmly on the ground and maintaining leaner and more efficient enterprises to ensure they will be able to respond to any economic threats.”

However, not all the businesses surveyed are seeing the same rate of recovery. Fewer firms (8%, down from 12% in January), are managing to be more lean and more efficient, and an increased cost of materials is still affecting 44%. In fact, the number of firms that say trading is so difficult they are in cost-cutting mode has actually increased from 1% to 2%.

Recent events such as the Icelandic volcano eruption and the General Election impacted on around half (49%), of firms in the region.