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UK SME domestic orders grow at their fastest since 1995

11 November, 2013

Optimism about the business environment among Britain’s small and medium-sized (SME) manufacturers has risen at the fastest pace since records began in 1988, on the back of improving demand and output, according to the latest SME Trends Survey released by the UK business organisation, the CBI.

The survey of 338 SME manufacturers reveals that, in the past three months, domestic orders have risen at their fastest rate since January 1995, while export orders rose at their fastest rate since April 2011. Output also rose modestly and is expected to pick up at a faster pace over the coming three months, accompanied by a further improvement in orders.

“This has been a positive quarter for small and medium-sized manufacturers, with new orders and output both on the rise, and further improvements expected next quarter,” says Stephen Gifford, the CBI’s director of economics. “Optimism about the general business situation has improved and is now at a record high, and there is evidence of a general thaw in investment intentions for the year ahead.”

Greater optimism and activity among SMEs has led to a step change in their investment plans for the year ahead. According to the CBI survey, they are planning to spend more on product and process innovation (+21%), training (+21%), plant and machinery (+11%), and buildings (+5%), compared to the past 12 months.

Gifford: a thaw in investment intentions

During the past quarter, employee numbers grew moderately (+7%) and the surveyed firms expect headcounts to increase further in the coming quarter (+14%).

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