Fife business in positive mood despite Brexit & pandemic, survey reveals

Fife businesses are feeling optimistic about the future as lockdown restrictions ease, according a new survey.

By Allan Crow
Monday, 10th May 2021, 10:37 am
Business confidence in Fife is good, according to the survey
Business confidence in Fife is good, according to the survey

The outlook for economic growth is upbeat despite the double whammy of Brexit and the pandemic.

The online survey was carried out by Invest Fife , and featured 385 businesses based in the region.

It revealed that 65 per cent were feeling positive about the future, and 60 per cent were confident of sustainability - seven per cent reported a ‘severe risk’.

Pamela Stevenson (Pic: Walter Neilson)

And half reported a shift towards using UK-based suppliers following Brexit, with one third embracing greater use of local and UK supply chains.

Businesses also see their growth potential in the UK, with 41 per cent targeting new customers in the UK.

The challenges facing business have been well documented - 79 per cent noted that they had been affected financially, but, this seems to have made them even more determined to succeed.

The survey found 68 per cent - over two thirds - have plans to expand, 10 per cent of which, are considering more ambitious expansion plans.

Figures released by Fife Council, show that in the last year, Business Gateway Fife and the local authority approved over 12,000 applications, totalling £133.5 million.

These grants, funded by either the Scottish Government or Fife Council, offered lifelines to local businesses.

As a result, 65 per cent said their cash reserves will last one month or more, whilst 40 per cent can survive financially for four months or more.

Pamela Stevenson, service manager, economic development, business and employability at Fife Council, welcomed the survey findings.

She said: “It has not been an easy time for businesses, as trading conditions have been tough, and therefore turnover has been impacted.

“But what is welcoming, is that despite adversity, Fife’s businesses have shown resilience, with the majority reviewing strategies, business models, as well as products and services.

“Overall, the consensus is that businesses are positive, ready, poised and focused on doing business now restrictions have eased. “

Almost three quarters of manufacturing businesses in the region continued to operate from their current premises throughout the pandemic.

And, at the time of the April survey, which coincided with lockdown restrictions easing, 89 per cent of respondents were back trading, with many reporting that they have learnt to be more pro-active in terms of continuing to review the products and services offered.

Unsurprisingly 78 per cent of businesses reported a fall in turnover and 76 per cent have experienced cancelled contracts as a result of the pandemic.

There is also, potentially, a digital skills gap with 40 per cent of respondents seeking more training and development for staff in digital skills.

This will partly be due to work from home guidance, as over a quarter of businesses, expect remote learning to continue.

Pamela added: “What is welcome too, is that the findings that were less positive, reveal where attention and funding is needed, and highlights how we can best meet the needs of our local businesses. Our teams will be reaching out to all participating businesses.”

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