Sussex undaunted by European crisis
The Argus - Your Business - 2nd October 2012
Sussex firms are turning their backs on Europe as the eurozone crisis deepens.
A survey of more than 50 organisations has found that more than half said they were completely unaffected by either UK spending cuts or the situation in Europe.
The majority of the organisations surveyed are looking to increase head count with 58% looking to increase staffing levels in the next 12 months.
Financial recruitment firm Grafton Banks surveyed managing directors and finance heads who said general feeling is still relatively positive with 68% rating business confidence as good or better.
Companies continue to be optimistic and confident about the future and many have used the recession to slim down, trim costs and operate more efficiently.
Half of the firms surveyed reported an increase in revenue and 56% were enjoying an increase in profits.
Alex Gregory, boss at the firm in Western Road, Hove, said: "The firms most reliant on European exports seem to be suffering the most, as you would expect, although many are offsetting the poor European performance by exploring new markets or locations or strengthening their UK presence.
"While individuals have to work harder, smarter and more effectively, companies are becoming more creative in their methods to increase revenue and profit. Companies seem to be looking to grow cautiously and strategically rather than to grow too quickly. They are more cash rich having tightened their belts in the downturn.
"The overriding mood seems to one of cautious optimism. Though local firms have faced four difficult years many have come through leaner, fitter, wiser and cash rich."
But Wendy Bell, general manager at Sussex Enterprise, the county's Chamber of Commerce, said exports are crucial to the economic recovery.
She said: "There have been several recent surveys of the Sussex economy all confirming that exporters are now thinking more globally.
"British exporters need more government support to help them compete globally and diversify towards growing markets outside the EU.
"We need firmer action in key areas such as trade finance, promotion and insurance. More infrastructure spending and the creation of a business bank would make a major contribution towards stronger growth in UK exports."