20 July 2023
Having historically lagged behind other sectors, UK growing is now stepping up its game.
MORE than a third of UK agricultural small businesses predict growth for the next three months.
The new research from Novuna Business Finance reveals small business growth outlook in the sector represents a marked improvement on previous years and, for the first time, the percentage of agricultural small businesses predicting growth has remained constant at over 30% for three consecutive quarters.
The findings are from Novuna Business Finance’s Business Barometer study, which has tracked small business growth forecasts every quarter across industry sectors. Whilst the percentage of agricultural small businesses predicting growth historically has lagged behind other sectors, for this quarter the figure for the agricultural sector is on a par with the UK national average (both 31%).
In other industry sectors, small businesses were less optimistic about growth forecasts for the three months to September. Growth forecasts in the retail sector hit a 12-month low, falling to 27% and the percentage of small businesses predicting growth in both manufacturing and IT/telecoms hit a two-year low (32% and 35% respectively).
In the construction sector, growth predictions remained volatile quarter by quarter. For the current period, the percentage of small business owners predicting growth fell sharply in Q2 (from 31% to 24%), although this figure remains higher than was the position at the start of the year.
Whilst the national picture remains unchanged on previous quarters - with the percentage of small businesses predicting growth holding firm at 31% - the representative survey of 1,103 small business owners revealed a two-year high for the proportion of seasonal businesses predicting growth for the quarter ahead. The Novuna Business Finance study revealed that 40% of small businesses that have a seasonal business model predict growth for this summer - a 25% rise on the start of the year and a favourable position compared to non-seasonal businesses, where growth forecasts have fallen for the fourth consecutive quarter.
Jo Morris, Head of Insight at Novuna Business Finance said: “At a time when the UK economy is in a relatively fragile position – impacted by inflation, the ongoing war in Ukraine and the pressure on living standards, our summer study shows a mixed position from the small business community, with enterprises in some regions and sectors struggling whilst, in others, growth forecasts are hitting 12 or 18-month peaks. Within the agricultural sector, it is positive to see more small businesses predicting growth than was the case throughout 2022 and this position has been sustained for the last three quarters.
“Whether growing, restructuring or consolidating, every business needs a plan and Novuna Business Finance will be there to support established enterprises that are working on strategies to adapt, grow and fulfil their potential despite the challenging market context."
*Do you know of a piece of machinery, implement, innovation or standout initiative that's worth commending? Or maybe a grower, agronomist or individual whose actions are worth talking about and celebrating? Enter one of the National Potato Industry Awards below - you can nominate yourself or someone else.