Survey: Businesses still confident despite risks

Lauren Fedor
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IN SPITE of lingering uncertainty over Britain’s relationship with the European Union, UK business owners are overwhelmingly optimistic, according to a new survey out today.

In a survey of more than 300 UK owner-managed businesses, Allied Irish Bank found that six in 10 owner managers expect the economic situation to improve in the next year, and nine in 10 are optimistic about their firms’ prospects.

Nearly two-thirds agree that “best days for their businesses lie ahead”.

Large firms were especially optimistic, as 81 per cent of those with turnovers of between £51m and £100m said they were more confident than they were a year ago.

But despite the bullish outlook, respondents identified major risk factors both at home and abroad, including inflation, regulation and market instability in Asia.

Thirty-one per cent of respondents said they saw inflation as a risk, compared to 22 per cent last year. Increased government regulation, meanwhile, proved less of a concern, with 39 per cent of owners citing it compared to 48 per cent one year ago.

One-fifth of owners rated Eurozone instability as the biggest issue facing the UK economy, while one in 10 said the upcoming EU referendum was the biggest risk.

Commenting on the results, Gerard O’Keeffe, head of Allied Irish Bank (GB), said:“Owner managers are much more confident about the future of their businesses and more optimistic about the broader economic outlook.

“There is still cause for caution,” he added. “Ongoing market instability in Asia will combine with concerns about the future of the Eurozone… owner managers need to carefully balance the risks and rewards before making a decision about whether to invest for growth.”