Welcome to the Close Brothers Asset Finance update of the print industry. In this document we highlight a wide range of issues relevant to SMEs in this industry.
The results are based on the Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey of close to 1,000 SMEs across the UK conducted by specialist independent researcher, Lightspeed, on Close Brothers’ behalf.
Where relevant, comparisons are made with national sentiment.
- Economic outlook
- Finance requirements
- Concerns and priorities
- Traffic congestion
- Social media
- Broadband speeds
Print SME business owners’ views about the economic outlook are broadly in line with the rest of the UK, with 33% confident the economy will grow (UK: 37%) and a further 29% feeling that while it will take longer, better times are ahead (UK: 29%).
A significant minority (30%) are concerned that the economy could decline and haven’t experienced any true economic growth.
Looking ahead, most (63%) print firms expect their performance to remain static, while 25% are hoping to expand their operations in 2019, which is less optimistic than the UK average of 38%. Only 4% predict their business will contract while 8% expect to close down.
Concerns & priorities
‘Competitors’ have leapfrogged ‘cash flow’ as the biggest concern for businesses in the Print industry, with ‘finding extra working capital’ also rising up the table.
At 31%. ‘Achieving growth’ remains the Print industry’s main priority, although ‘developing new products and services’ – at 27% - is becoming more of a focus when contrasted to previous reviews. ‘Business consolidation’ and ‘paying down debts’ – at 23% and 19% respectively - are the third and fourth most important priorities.
Over half (54%) of businesses in the industry are showing a strong willingness to invest in their operations over the coming months.
Despite this; 13% of those polled are finding it a ‘major challenge’ to access the funding they need and a further 54% are saying that it hasn’t become any easier to get hold of finance and is as problematic as it’s ever been.
A combined total of 28% say it’s either become easier or they have ‘never had a problem accessing finance’.
Speed of broadband has become a key decision for many firms when relocating, with 54% citing it as an influencing factor.
While 88% of print businesses are content with their broadband speeds, 38% have admitted to having lost business because of slow speeds.
Print operators are, for the most part, pleased both with their provider’s responsiveness (71%) and value for money (71%), although both track below the national average.
Businesses in the print industry are among the most likely to use social media as a sales tool. Of the 63% who do, Facebook is the most popular, followed by Twitter and Instagram.
Half of print firms employ someone to drive their online presence, which has had significant success, with 58% having made sales off the back of social media.
A large majority of print businesses (79%) feel that traffic congestion is a significant problem in the UK and it’s only becoming worse, according to 63% of those surveyed.
This is impacting 38% of print companies’ ability to trade or operate at their full capacity, in line with the UK average of 41%; for a further 38%, traffic congestion has impacted profitability (UK: 41%).
Nearly one in four print bosses (38%) feel the current road network is not sufficient to cope with existing traffic levels.