SMEs in the UK are forecasting job creation, research and development (R&D) investment and market growth over the coming 12 months, new research has revealed.
The annual survey of UK-based growth companies, carried out by mid-market private equity firm ECI, shows that 61% of high growth SMEs are predicting turnover to increase by more than 11% in the next 12 months with 86% forecasting growth of more than 6%.
However only 16% of respondents felt that the coalition government’s policies were having a positive impact on business this year compared to 47% of those asked the same question in 2011.
And although confidence would appear to be high overall among respondents 64% said that access to finance continued to be a key barrier to growth while 27% said that access to human capital was hampering expansion.
The annual survey was sent to 315 directors of UK companies with a turnover of between £10m and £200m that are showing growth of more than 5% since their last accounts.
The 10-week survey was carried out across a range of sectors including business services, industrial operations, technology, media and telecommunications (TMT), healthcare and consumer businesses.
The survey revealed that 78% of respondents planned to take on more staff over the next 12 months while 48% said they intended to invest in R&D and new products, a 10% increase on last year’s figure.
Other figures show that SMEs are increasingly looking to international markets for expansion opportunities with 43% and 39% of respondents citing Europe and Asian economies respectively as having the greatest potential for growth opportunities.
ECI managing director Steve Tudge said : "Britain’s high growth companies continue to try and buck the national economic trend through innovation, hard work and investment. But it is imperative to create the right environment for these SMEs, as they tend to invest more and grow employment more than other sized businesses."
"The key areas for investment other than overseas expansion, are investment in staff and investment in R&D and new products. Encouragingly for the economy, fewer businesses are focused on cost reduction this year than the last two years."