European businesses are mostly positive about performance in 2017, with 80% expecting new business volumes to rise, according to a survey by Leaseurope and Invigors Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The ‘Leaseurope/Invigors European Business Confidence Survey December 2016’ found 67% of Leaseurope members did not expect a rise in bad debt, and 11% expected it to fall.

The 2016 survey showed increased optimism on the previous year, with the proportion of respondents expecting rising margins up to 22% from 16%, while 51% anticipated no change in their company’s margins.

Just over half of the respondents, 51%, anticipated an increase in net profits over the following six months, while 21% expected a fall.

The survey found that European businesses anticipated more competition, with 36% believing that domestic competition from new entrants was more likely, an increase from 26% recorded in June 2016.

The respondents expected expenditure to remain largely stable in the first half of 2017, with 72% expecting training expenditure to remain unchanged, 40% expecting IT expenditure to stay constant, and 60% anticipating no change in expenditure for marketing.

Staffing levels were largely not expected to fall, with 48% expecting no change in sales staff and 39% expecting a rise. For sales staff, 43% expected numbers to remain stable, and 24% expected an increase.

Invigors EMEA partner Richard Ryan said: “This latest Business Confidence Survey suggests that the European leasing industry should enjoy a positive start to 2017.

“Recent political challenges in the US and UK do not appear to have dented sentiment in the European leasing market, though it will be interesting to see if this resilience is maintained in the aftermath of the upcoming elections in France, Germany, and the Netherlands.”