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Businesses in the West Midlands see year-on-year increase in orders, says new report…

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Terry Wolfendale Bibby Financial ServicesReal signs of economic recovery are starting to show in the West Midlands, as the number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) reporting an increase in business has risen year-on-year according to the latest figures.

During the fourth quarter of 2012 almost a quarter, 23 per cent, of firms in the region saw an increase in orders compared to just 15 per cent from the year before, according to independent research commissioned exclusively by Bibby Financial Services among the region’s SME community.

However in other areas such as new customers and enquiries the region has not seen similar increases, leading to calls for more financial support for SMEs in the West Midlands. Optimism is also low with almost half, 42 per cent, of businesses believing the economy will not fully recover for at least five years.

The UK’s leading independent invoice finance provider publishes its quarterly Business Factors Index as a barometer of SME performance and outlook. The latest results show some encouraging signs for firms hoping to move further towards recovery and out of recession.

The key findings for the West Midlands in Q4 2012 include:

  • 33 per cent report increase in new customers, compared to 34 per cent in Q4 2011
  • 13 per cent report increase in enquiries, compared to 17 per cent in Q4 2011
  • 17 per cent recruiting new staff, compared to nine per cent in Q4 2011
  • 26 per cent say their business should be improving in 2013

Terry Wolfendale (pictured), spokesperson for Bibby Financial Services in the West Midlands, said the key for businesses looking to build on the positive results of last year is access to financial support to provide a firm foundation for growth.

He said: “We all know that access to finance has been a challenge for many small and medium-sized businesses since the recession, which resulted in traditional forms of funding being shut off and credit controls tightened.

“However the invoice finance sector has seen a rise in demand from businesses looking to stabilise their cash flow and plan for growth, because we have been very much open for business and are committed to supporting SMEs over the coming years. More businesses are seeing the clear benefits of an invoice finance facility which provides much more flexibility for the business.

“Not only does it ensure that invoicing is kept in order and up to date, but also releases funds when the business needs them, rather than being at the mercy of ever-increasing payment terms typically from large customers.

“Broadly we are encouraged by the results of our Business Factors Index for Q4 2012, as it underlines the key role being played by the UK’s SME community in moving the country back to recovery. But that can only be possible if those businesses have the kind of flexible funding that will enable them to realise that ambition.”

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