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UK SMEs suffering more than global counterparts

Simon Quicke

The UK SME market continues to cling to a gloomy prognosis of the state of the economy with expectations that things will remain tough being the prevailing opinion.

According to on-going research carried out by AMI Partners small businesses across the globe are experiencing pressure but the UK is finding it harder than most of their foreign counterparts.

Hugh Gibbs, vice president of research and consulting EMEA at AMI partners, said that slower payments, cash flow issues and tightening credit lines were universal problems.

But the figures showed that the UK was finding it harder than anyone else with 76% of SMEs seeing slower payments compared to worldwide figures of 49% and almost half of British firms had seen credit lines tighten with only 36% across the rest of the world reporting that as a problem.

"There have been three successive quarters where SMBs don't expect conditions to improve," he said.

The majority of companies are using their own cash to finance operations with others opting to use finance available from vendors.

SMEs are also trying to reduce costs without cutting staff by reducing offices and sub-letting facilities and turning the screws on phone bills and travel expenses.

But Gibbs also identified potential areas of channel opportunity with mobile workers becoming more of an issue for SMEs along with the large proportion that did not have any internal IT expertise.

"Around 39% of small businesses don't have anyone managing IT. If you size the number of employers then that is a big number to go at," said Dave Poskett, HP SPO director in the UK and Ireland.

He added that services like managed print were still areas that could grow as customers looked to do more with less.

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