Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Britain are planning to invest for future growth, according to research from Aldermore.

Aldermore conducted a survey in conjunction with YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), and looked at 1,015 decision makers in British SMEs between 29th March and 6th April.

It found almost four out of every 10 (39%) businesses surveyed intend to hire more staff over the next five years to foster growth, while more than a fifth (22%) plan to invest in new assets such as machinery or vehicles to increase productivity. Furthermore, almost one in five (19%) SMEs intend to grow by joining forces with another business either through a merger or acquisition. Only 14% of those questioned claimed that they will not be taking positive action in order to grow their business. With 86%, the vast majority of British small and medium firms are in the growth business and making firm plans to achieve it.

Aldermore said that despite a slowing world economy and increasing uncertainty about the future path of the UK economy, partly due to the upcoming EU referendum, the results show that SMEs in Britain are confident that investing in their businesses is the best way forward to strengthen their position in the market. The lender said with a significant proportion of SMEs intending to hire new staff, prospects for the UK job market looked strong.

Carl D’Ammassa, Aldermore’s group managing director, business finance, said: "It’s clear that SMEs are being proactive and have strong plans in place to grow their business over the next five years. Not only are they intending to promote their business through increased marketing activity but they are also taking steps to launch new products and hire new staff.

"Whether this is despite of or in reaction to the upcoming uncertainty brought on by the EU referendum is difficult to gauge. However, what is clear is that, these steps will serve to increase the ability of SMEs to continue driving economic growth in their communities and throughout the wider UK economy."