Strongest Q1 performance since 2008
Latest small business index shows strongest Q1 performance since 2008
Strong performance by small and medium sized firms ahead of GDP announcement
Ahead of the next GDP figures, due to be announced on April 29, business funding provider, Bibby Financial Services (BFS), has recorded the highest level of first quarter output among its 4,000 invoice finance clients since 2008.
The invoice finance specialist has tracked turnover data of its client-base as part of the quarterly Business Factors Index report since the lowest point of the economic downturn, across five key sectors of manufacturing, construction, transport, wholesale and business services.
The overall level of the Index for Q1 2014 is higher than any previous Q1 period since 2008, suggesting small and medium-sized businesses in the UK enjoyed the strongest level of activity, year-on-year, for six years.
David Postings, UK Chief Executive at BFS, said: “The Business Factors Index provides a clear indication of the rate of recovery being felt by UK businesses.
“We have seen already that the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has upgraded its forecast for growth in the UK during the first quarter, and we would expect the official estimate of GDP on April 29 to reflect the positivity the Index has highlighted,” he continued.
The report found that manufacturing SMEs not only recorded the highest level of activity for a first quarter, but the second highest for any quarter going back to the start of the Index.
Results among construction SMEs, however, do not share this positivity and show the lowest level of activity since the first quarter of 2009, reflecting what could be a growing unease about the longevity of Government schemes designed to stimulate the sector.
It is notable that the first quarter ended with a surge of activity in the sector for the month of March, coinciding with Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement that the Help to Buy scheme would remain in place for the rest of the decade.
Findings of the report are released in the wake of the latest net lending figures from the Bank of England showing that loans to businesses contracted by £500million in the three months leading to February.
Postings said that more and more businesses are using invoice finance to fund their businesses and has called for owners to review their funding methods while banks continue to reduce finance available.
He said: “The banks obviously provide a vital service to the UK economy but too often businesses are pushing against closed doors when applying for finance.
“At this stage of recovery, we need to nurture and stimulate activity – not prevent it.”
According to the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA) sales turnover for businesses using this form of funding in 2013 increased to £275bn, year-on-year growth of 10 per cent.
Postings said: “This type of finance offers real flexibility for businesses, which is what they need right now. The Business Factors Index figures are a sign of the vital role non-bank lenders play in enabling firms to grow with sustainable cashflow.”
Business Factors Index, Q1 2014 - readings set against a base point of 100:
Business Factors Index