Businesses in the North East are at their most optimistic since 2011, with the average company with a turnover of £20m or less expecting to grow revenue by 116% over the next five years - more than double the 56% five-year growth forecast in 20122 and 109% in 20113.
The number of firms in the region citing the current trading environment as a barrier to growth fell substantially to 24%, down from 60% last year and 52% in 2011, according to new research from Santander Corporate & Commercial.
The region also has the highest number of businesses (25%) in the UK looking to grow through acquisition, up from 8% on last year, and the highest number of businesses (21%) reporting that they have never been in better shape – up from 11% in 2012 and just 5% in 2011.
Nationally, the study revealed UK businesses as a whole are predicting turnover growth of an average 134% in the next five years, equivalent to 18.5% a year, and up considerably from the 88% five-year growth forecast in last year’s survey, and the 104% forecast in 2011.
According to the research, stronger UK growth figures were matched by a stronger outlook for employment with around one in eight (13%) companies stating that hiring new staff was an immediate priority – the highest it has been since 2011.
SMEs also reported they are turning to acquisitions for growth, with the number reporting this to be an immediate priority doubling to 14% this year