Conditions for the UK’s small and medium-sized (SME) businesses stabilised over the past quarter, according to the latest CBI Quarterly SME trends survey, after deteriorating in the previous quarter.
The survey of 441 firms released today shows that total new orders and new domestic orders edged up slightly in the three months to April, though export orders fell again.
But optimism about demand for exports over the year ahead also rose for the second quarter, with SMEs expressing greater confidence than larger firms.
Meanwhile, output was flat among small and medium-sized manufacturers, in line with the performance of the rest of the manufacturing sector, following a quarter in which they outperformed the sector as a whole. Expectations for the quarter ahead remained strong.
Against this backdrop, investment intentions strengthened, with replacement and efficiency among the primary drivers of investment, while hiring intentions remain firm. However, concerns about skills shortages have picked up as a potential drag on output.
23% of small & medium sized enterprise (SME) manufacturers said they were more optimistic, while 18% said they were less optimistic, giving a balance of -+5%