- Despite the hit to their bottom line, local businesses say their confidence is on the up
- SMEs in Bristol have weathered the storm by looking locally for partners, suppliers and customers
New research reveals that Bristol’s small to medium sized businesses believe that increased uncertainty due to Covid has cost those surveyed each, on average, £916,049 in lost revenue or income over the last year, with over a quarter (28%) saying their organisation has taken more risks.
Despite this toll, there are clear signs that their overall confidence is rising — with 46% of local SMEs surveyed saying they are more confident today about the future of their company compared to this time a year ago. This indicates that the business landscape in Bristol may have turned a corner after a tough year.
The new research from CitySprint, the UK’s largest same day distribution company, also finds that almost one in four (23%) of SMEs in Bristol say their business is in better financial shape compared to 12 months ago.
In an understandably difficult year, the survey of business decision-makers and leaders also finds that over the last 12 months, Bristol’s SMEs surveyed have looked closer to home for the support they have needed to survive: 60% say they have looked more locally for their business needs compared to the year before, with 53% of these seeking suppliers from the local area. A further 38% also said that the significance of collaboration with local businesses has increased, while 77% believe local support will benefit their business over the next 12 months.
Looking further ahead, 45% plan to grow their customer base locally over the next 12 months, again underlining the local opportunities for growth available as we move into recovery. Meanwhile, more than half (54%) say they are looking across the UK, while just over one in five (22%) say they are also looking at international trade.
Commenting on the findings of the Bristol survey Rosie Bailey, Commercial Director at CitySprint, said: “It’s great to see the signs of recovery on the horizon and a renewed optimism amongst businesses in the area as they look to the year ahead. Bristol’s SMEs have worked together to support each other during the pandemic — helping each other to successfully navigate the challenges and hurdles that have come their way over the last few months. Long may this continue!”
Despite the renewed optimism, Bristol’s SMEs surveyed still believe conditions will remain challenging for Bristol’s smaller businesses over the coming year — with 42% saying they fear Covid will continue to be a major obstacle to business success, while 29% worry about how Brexit will affect them.
The twin factors of Brexit and Covid have also thrown a sharp spotlight on supply chains, with 35% of Bristol’s SMEs surveyed saying logistics and/ or their supply chain have become more important to their business over the last year. This is especially pertinent given more than one in four (26%) say their supply chain extends internationally in Europe and other parts of the world.
38% have also revealed they are investing in communications to customers to make them aware of any potential impact of Brexit, while 36% are easing partnerships in the UK to mitigate risks in light of Brexit.
To help them unlock opportunity over the coming year, more than a quarter (27%) of SMEs surveyed in Bristol say more local Government support, in the form of information grants, advice etc, would help their business, while a fifth (20%) say they would most benefit from having access to a better quality of local suppliers.