SMEs to prioritise cost-cutting in 2017

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Reducing costs looks set to be a major priority for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the new year, a new study has found.

According to research by Liberis, 58 per cent of SMEs will put cutting expenditure high up their agendas in 2017.

Indeed, reducing costs was widely identified as a bigger priority than issues such as developing the skills of their workforce or growing their businesses.

Much of this might be a reaction to the result of the EU membership referendum in June, which saw 52 per cent of people vote for the UK to leave the international bloc.

Brexit was raised as a concern by many respondents to the survey, while others expressed dismay with the upcoming inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States.

Interestingly, the impending exit from the EU was mainly found to be a priority among older SME owners.

Some 61 per cent of those who cited Brexit as their main challenge for the year ahead were found to be aged 45 or above. Furthermore, 84 per cent of these people were male. 

Other issues flagged up by SME owners as challenges for 2017 included competition, as well as rising costs.

Smaller retailers appear to be particularly keen to trim their expenditure in the next year, as they accounted for more than a fifth of those who cited cost-cutting as a priority.

By contrast, automotive SMEs are largely focusing on developing staff skills in 2017.