A poll of 1,213 Hitachi Capital SME clients found that 40% were planning growth or expansion to their business for the three-month period to the end of April 2017.
This was up threefold on 2016’s figure for the same quarter.
Hitachi found businesses that have been trading for the least amount of time (up to five years) were significantly more likely to have greater confidence in business outlook (52%), whereas those trading for 20 or more years were least positive (33%).
50% of small businesses in East Anglia predicted growth in the next three months, while SMEs in Wales were those most likely to express concern for their business, with 10% fearing contraction and 8% predicting a struggle to survive.
Hitachi found SMEs in financial services were the most likely to predict growth for the next three months (56%).
SMEs optimism in the manufacturing sector rose significantly over the last six months, buoyed by the prospect of cheaper exports, Hitachi said. SMEs predicting steady growth in the next three months were up from 30% to 49% on six months ago, while fewer small businesses in the sector predicted contraction.
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The retail sector SMEs expressed the most fear that business will contract over the coming months (17%).
Gavin Wraith-Carter, managing director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance said: “With almost half of SMEs in the United Kingdom (46%) predicting business as usual for the next three months and a further 40% predicting growth, our research suggests that small businesses in the UK are paving the way for business development. SMEs are less inclined to subscribe to the uncertainties felt by their larger business counterparts. Global businesses fear the implications of changing trade negotiations that are being carried out under an uncertain political climate while many SMEs are taking the view of opportunity over loss; excited to expand with the possibility of new trade deals and feeling more in control of their own destinies.”