UK SMEs plan to reduce costs in 2017, survey reveals

The majority of UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be prioritising reducing costs in the New Year, a study has found.

The research, conducted by business lender Liberis, revealed that more than half (58 per cent) of business owners will prioritise reducing costs over expanding their business or developing the skills of their staff.

Businesses cited uncertainty over Brexit, rising costs, and the US presidential election as the main challenges they expect to face in 2017.

In particular, the retail sector was the most concerned approaching the New Year, making up 21 per cent of the 58 per cent that will prioritise cost cutting in 2017.

Meanwhile, the majority of business owners in the automotive sector said that developing staff skills is their main priority for the New Year.

When the respondents were broken down by business size, the smallest of SMEs (one to 49 employees) will focus on reducing costs in 2017, while those with more than 50 employees were more focused on developing staff skills.

The most popular challenge mentioned in the survey however, was competition. Around 86 per cent of those that listed this as their greatest challenge of 2017 were businesses made up of 1-10 employees across several different sectors, including property, hospitality, finance and technology.

“Brexit has sparked the urge for businesses to cut back. Rising costs, uncertainty and financial concerns force UK SMEs to prioritise cost reduction over expansion and developing skills,” said Liberis.