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How SMEs are showing resilience in the face of economic headwinds 

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In the face of rising inflation and economic uncertainty, UK SMEs remain resilient. We commissioned leading research agency Opinium to gather the views of over 1,000 SMEs with a turnover of up to £40 million and they found that companies continue to target growth and investment.  

The report found:  

  • On average, 43% of firms said they will grow turnover in the next 12 months, with a further 30% forecasting no change
  • This optimistic view of the future comes on the back of growth recorded over the past 12 months. Nearly half (48%) of SMEs said they had increased turnover over the previous year, with a further 23% maintaining turnover levels
  • Half of businesses view their position as stable and they expect that to continue, with over a third describing themselves as thriving. Just 1% of companies said they are struggling to keep the business afloat 
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Investment remains an important element of SMEs’ business plans, with four in 10 (42%) companies stating they will increase investment compared to the last 12 months, and a further 37% of SMEs maintaining investment level. One in five businesses will decrease investment.  

  • Unsurprisingly, larger businesses have a greater propensity to invest – 67% of companies with a turnover of between £10 million and £25 million will increase investment, with half (51%) of firms with a turnover of up to £40 million increasing their investment spend
  • On average, companies plan to invest £656,000 to achieve their business objectives, although that average is pulled up by higher levels of investment by larger companies
  • Businesses with a turnover of over £25 million plan to invest £1.75 million, with those with turnovers of between £10 million and £25 million investing £969,000, on average. Companies with a turnover of between £2.5 million and £5 million will invest a more modest £445,000 

The report also addresses some of the issues businesses are facing. Businesses cited inflation impacting customers as their main challenge over the past 12 months, as well as cost increases impacting their own companies.  

These two issues look certain to remain over the coming year, which is reflected in their outlook.  

The pandemic continued to affect companies, particularly with the growth of the Omnicom variant in December 2021, whilst supply chain disruption was also an issue for many companies. 

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Paragon Bank Managing Director of SME Lending John Phillipou said: “The economy and politics have dominated the news agenda over the past two months, with uncertainty and instability swirling around us. The recent changes at the head of the Government and reversal of the mini-budget seems to have calmed markets, but dark clouds remain overhead.  

“But while the challenges facing our economy are real, the widespread negativity reported daily is certainly not what we are seeing from our customer base. In fact, I would describe the general mood of the majority of SME owners and managers I speak to as cautious pragmatism. Yes, it’s difficult, yes, it’s challenging, but SMEs are doing what they have always done; they are working the problem, trying to find solutions, attempting to find a way through these difficult times.” 

Paragon Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England number 05390593. Registered office 51 Homer Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3QJ. Paragon Bank PLC is registered on the Financial Services Register under the firm reference number 604551