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Domestic market holds most growth hope for SME sector

ALMOST two thirds (63%) of small and medium sized businesses believe that the domestic market represents the greatest growth potential for their business, according to a new survey.

13% cited the European Union as having the most growth potential for them, and just 12% said that they have set their sights on exporting to the Middle East and Asia.

The figures are drawn from the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly poll that seeks the opinion of SME owners and senior management on a range of issues that affect their business.

Mike Randall, CEO of Close Brothers Asset Finance said: "It's interesting to learn that despite the government's work to encourage UK businesses to export in an effort to rebalance the economy, so many seem hesitant to look further afield to achieve their potential.

"Just over half of those surveyed in our Business Barometer said that they export their products or services. A fifth said that they don't see a need to do so. However, if the UK is to hit the government's £1 trillion exports target by 2020, then businesses may need to step up their efforts to attract opportunities and secure exports in faster-growing emerging economies," he said.

The Close Brothers Business Barometer also asked businesses how they finance their exports. Just under a quarter said bank overdraft and a fifth use asset finance.

Mike Randall added: "There’s no reason that small firms shouldn't aim at the export market to achieve growth. Recent figures from UK Trade & Investment demonstrate that businesses that export are on average 34% more productive and 12.5% more resilient than businesses that don't.

"If suitable finance is the main barrier, then it needn't be. Asset finance offers a cost effective and efficient way to invest in your business to ensure it has the tools it needs to meet the demands of an export strategy."