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SMEs hoping for year-end growth

Small businesses that provide vital services to support corporate Britain are not yet experiencing the upsurge in activity that is underpinning hopes of continued economic recovery in the UK.

According to the Business Factors Index report for Q3, produced by leading independent invoice finance provider Bibby Financial Services, the army of office cleaners, recruitment firms, freelancers, specialist consultants and caterers that provide an array of services to big business, are struggling to enjoy the benefits of three quarters of consecutive growth in GDP.

The quarterly index which tracks the volume of invoices being issued across a client base of 4,000 SMEs against a base point of 100, put business services firms at 91.1 for Q3, down from 94.9 in Q2 and a similar level this time last year (94).

Andy Tait, sales and marketing director at Bibby Financial Services, says: “SME business services activity is prone to fluctuations, so it’s not unusual to see a slight contraction from the previous quarter’s reading.”

However, the third quarter did still see higher levels of activity than both Q1 this year (80.2) and Q4 2012 (88.2).

Tait continued: “The SME business services environment is somewhat reliant on the recruitment sector – both permanent and short term staffing.

“The gradual upturn in activity we have observed is likely to be as a result of businesses looking to start recruiting again following the return of some market confidence and news of economic growth.”

Ken Anderson, Commercial Director at HDS Personnel, said: “It’s difficult to predict recruitment demand throughout the summer months as holidays can have a real effect on the requirements of many of our regular clients.”

Moving into the final quarter of the year, it’s expected that more businesses will begin to consider recruitment for 2014 as they finalise plans for the year ahead.

Richard Sorsby runs First Choice Healthcare providing temporary care staff for privately owned nursing homes across South Yorkshire – a business that has already began to recruit for 2014. He says: “We are now looking at expanding and have already started recruiting. We hope to grow and establish ourselves in the industry over the next year.”


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