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GOING FOR GROWTH: SME NUMBERS SOAR IN OFFICE ADMIN AND BUSINESS SUPPORT SECTOR

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GOING FOR GROWTH: SME NUMBERS SOAR IN OFFICE ADMIN AND BUSINESS SUPPORT SECTOR
  • Biggest SME growth sectors revealed by Hampshire Trust Bank
  • Office admin and business support is top industry for SME growth
  • Transport and distribution SMEs are the most optimistic about their industry long-term

The number of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the office administration and business sector has grown by 76% in the past five years, making it the top industry for SME growth according to a new study from specialist challenger bank Hampshire Trust Bank.

The annual research reveals that the number of SMEs has grown in total by 23% from 2011 – 2016, with human health services, followed by motion picture, video, TV, sound recording and music publishing the second and third biggest growth sectors respectively, having both experienced a 50% rise in the number of SMEs in the past five years.

The study, conducted in partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), analysed the top 30 micro sectors in the UK to establish which are growing the most. The study reveals that service-led industries have grown strongly over the past five years.

Top 10 UK micro sectors by SME growth

Micro sector Number of SMEs (2016) Number of SMEs (2011) % change

2011-2016

Office admin and business support 108,895 61,995 76%
Human health services 60,775 40,400 50%
Motion picture, video, TV, sound recording and music publishing 24,595 16,415 50%
Other professional, scientific and technical 76,665 51,805 48%
Land transport and pipeline transport 61,065 41,865 46%
Head office and management consultancy 174,550 120,080 45%
Computer programming 152,835 106,475 44%
Architectural, engineering & technical testing 100,095 69,450 44%
Transportation and storage 92,485 65,590 41%
Activities auxiliary to financial services and insurance activities* 31,930 22,745 40%

 Specialist sectors

Hampshire Trust Bank also analysed the industries in which it has specialist expertise. According to the research, the transportation and distribution sector has grown 41% in the past five years. This trend is reflected by the bank’s own data, with the bank’s Asset Finance division seeing a 15% increase in business from the transport and distribution sector from 2016 – 2017. This positive growth trajectory echoes the optimistic outlook this industry holds for the future. The study finds that the transportation and distribution industry is the most positive, with 60% of respondents stating that they were optimistic about the long-term economic prospects of their sector, compared to 53% in 2016.

The bank also provides property development finance to SME house-builders and commercial mortgages via brokers. The study found that the number of construction of domestic buildings sector SMEs has grown by 38% in the past five years, while the number of smaller firms in the renting and operating retail space sector has risen by 16% over the same time period.

Despite both industries witnessing positive growth, real estate SMEs do not feel as confident about the long-term future of their industry, compared to 2016 data. The study found that 53% of this sector’s smaller firms are optimistic over the long-term, down slightly from 57% last year. Real estate SMEs felt economic uncertainty (46%) and the regulation (32%) were key barriers to growth.

Mark Sismey-Durrant, Chief Executive Officer at Hampshire Trust Bank, said: “SMEs are thinking long-term about their business and for many sectors this is a positive projection forward. We back this sentiment – businesses should be positive about their firms as this state of mind will provide them with the strength and determination to make their companies succeed. But positive thinking is not enough. We need to recognise the importance of smaller businesses and the role they play in the success of the UK economy and ensure these firms have the support they need to thrive and grow. We believe this is where specialist banks such as Hampshire Trust Bank can help, providing SMEs in the sectors in which we operate with the funding required to support their growth aspirations.”

Nina Skero, Head of Macroeconomics at CEBR, said: “The service industries account for around 78% of UK GDP, hence it is encouraging to see that over the past five years growth in the number of SMEs has been particularly strong in these sectors. The buoyant confidence among SMEs is a further sign that these businesses will continue supporting economic growth. The UK is undergoing a period of great economic change and cultivating this optimism must be a priority.”

Business

Nearly 14 Million1 UK adults more likely to spend on Black Friday than they were last year

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Nearly 14 Million1 UK adults more likely to spend on Black Friday than they were last year 1

Yolt launches evolved app to help shoppers save whilst they spend

  • Across the UK, consumers are set to spend £6.4bn on discount days
  • Despite the pandemic, 1 in 5 stated they would see an increase in their spending on Christmas this year, revealing they will be likely to spend £240 more than they spent last year
  • Yolt today launches a brand-new evolution of the smart money app, which aims to help people save whilst they spend, saving a minimum of £416 a year
  • To help people spend smarter this Black Friday, the smart money app Yolt has a host of new features including round up functionality, and cashback offers with a wide range of retailers including John Lewis, Argos, Asos and Domino’s

New research* from Yolt, the award-winning smart money app, reveals that over a quarter (26%) of UK adults have said they are more likely to wait for discount days, such as Black Friday, to do their Christmas shopping than they were last year. In response to the pandemic and to help people shop smartly in the run up to the festive period, Yolt has launched a brand-new evolution of its app designed to help users to save whilst they spend. New features include the Yolt account and virtual Money Jar, as well as new cashback partnerships with the likes of John Lewis, Argos, Asos and Domino’s. The evolved smart money app can be used to save shoppers a minimum of £416** a year.

Despite the challenging economic climate, Yolt’s data insights from the first lockdown period in the UK showed that there were increases of up to 355% on spending in categories such as groceries, online clothing retailers, takeaways, and streaming and gaming services. On top of this, Yolt’s data revealed a change in consumers’ financial priorities – with many attempting to save in lockdown, but 65% not being successful in doing so. Therefore, to enable people to find the right balance in their efforts to save for any uncertainty that lies ahead, but also enjoy discount days such as Black Friday and festivities in the run up to Christmas, Yolt has launched a host of new features uniquely designed to help people save whilst they spend.

The evolved app comes at a time of challenging economic conditions, where more UK consumers are actively seeking discounts to try and balance the books this Christmas. Yolt’s research found that consumers across the UK spend an average £6.4bn on discount days such as Black Friday.

In total, over a third (35%) of UK adults said they would be looking to take advantage of upcoming discount days, with nearly one in five (18%) stating they do all their shopping for Christmas and birthdays on discount days and during sales. UK consumers said they tend to spend over £120 on days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and surprisingly almost one in five (19%) state they will actually see an increase in their spending on Christmas this year, verses last year. Those expecting an increase revealed they will likely spend an average of £240 more on this Christmas when compared to last year.

Concerns around affording Christmas are perhaps leading more people to take advantage of Black Friday deals than in previous years. Almost four in ten (37%) don’t tend to set savings aside for Christmas, and almost a quarter (23%) said they are going to have to dip into savings that weren’t allocated for Christmas this year. Finding the right balance between spending and saving for future uncertainty is going to be an increasing challenge for people during the festive period.

Pauline van Brakel, Chief Product Officer at Yolt, comments: “Given the incredibly challenging times we are facing this year as a result of the pandemic; it’s perhaps unsurprising to see that people are more likely to wait until popular discount days such as Black Friday to help them to spend smart over the festive period.  Savvy spending in the run up to Christmas is always a good idea, and discount days can help ease what is for many a very expensive time of year – having said that, people should try not to overspend and risk getting themselves into debt.”

Pauline continues: “Finding the balance between spending and saving isn’t easy. And whilst it might seem like a difficult time to save right now it is also perhaps more important than ever. We’ve launched an evolved version of the Yolt app to help people save whilst they spend. The app enables people to spend smart by earning them cashback on their purchases at selected retailers and rounding purchases up to the nearest pound. Encouraging users to save is central to the app, not only by spending smartly but also by finding them competitive deals on their household bills and even spotting Christmas bonuses or refunds and prompting users to add them to their virtual savings jar.”

The new Yolt app is available from today, with full access to all UK users on iOS. Android will follow in 2021.

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Business

Christmas isn’t cancelled: European shoppers plan to spend more online this Black Friday

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Christmas isn’t cancelled: European shoppers plan to spend more online this Black Friday 2
  • Half (52%) of European consumers plan to do Christmas shopping around holiday sales, including Black Friday, compared to previous years
  • 60% say they are planning to do most of their Christmas shopping online
  • A third (34%) plan on leaving their Christmas shopping until the last minute in hope of securing bigger discounts

As Black Friday approaches, European consumers are not going to let a turbulent year spoil their Christmas. As shoppers continue to adapt to the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they are getting even savvier with their spending. New research from Kaspersky has found half (52%) plan to do more Christmas shopping around sales or shopping holidays, including Black Friday, compared to previous years. What’s more, a third (34%) plan on leaving it until the last minute in the hope of securing bigger discounts.

In a bid to enjoy Christmas while also adhering to COVID-19 social distancing measures, European consumers are focusing their attention away from physical stores to find their gifts. In fact, three-in-five (60%) say they are planning to do most of their Christmas shopping online. A fifth (20%) go as far as saying they will make all of their festive purchases online this year, despite not usually doing so.

With online sales set to rise, Kaspersky’s findings also indicate that most consumers are not expected to scale back on their Christmas spending – despite economic recessions across the continent. Only a quarter (26%) of consumers are planning to reduce their Christmas shopping budget this year by at least a third or more due to financial restrictions caused by COVID-19. However, this figure rises to 30% amongst 25 to 34-year-olds, the age group most widely affected by pandemic-related job cuts.

Yet, as the number of consumers bargain hunting online rises, so does the amount of risks being taken to secure big savings. Only 16% are not willing to exchange their personal data for online discounts – despite the potential of falling victim to fraudulent websites and sales scams.

“The festive period is always a big deal, and never more so than this year, as people seek to redress some of the chaos the pandemic has caused throughout 2020. It stands to reason that people are looking to do the majority of their sale shopping online in a bid to stay safe, as well as grab a bargain. But we must also consider that where the crowds go, the criminals follow. Just as pickpockets flock to crowded areas hoping to get lucky, cybercriminals will be looking at consumer shopping trends and trying to exploit people’s eagerness to grab a bargain and save some money. So, my advice would be that people do their research, follow some basic common sense measures when shopping and avoid getting swept up in the tidal wave of hype as we seek to remedy 2020 with a happy festive season. One thing to always bear in mind is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” comments David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky.

Kaspersky warns bargain hunters to remain wary of potential Black Friday and festive season sales scams. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Shop online with confidence this Christmas by following our advice on avoiding retail scams:

  • Only shop with legitimate online stores. It’s always safer to type in the address yourself, or select it from your bookmarks, rather than clicking on a link. Use your browser address bar to check if the website you are visiting is genuine and secure and that they carry the padlock or HTTPS
  • Complete purchases through secure payment methods. Pay with credit cards or robust payment services so that transactions remain protected
  • Verify discounts. If you receive a sales discount via email or text, check the sender and any web links are legitimate before you click
  • Keep your device software and applications up-to-date and protect all your devices with a reputable internet security product. Cybersecurity solutions with behaviour-based anti-phishing technologies, such as Kaspersky Total Security, can send your notifications if you are trying to visit a phishing web page
  • Manage your passwords. Password managers can help you shop with multiple retailers by safely storing your credentials, so they are unique for all of your online accounts
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Business

Optimum Finance bolsters its offering in three regions with two new sales directors and commercial director promotion

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Optimum Finance bolsters its offering in three regions with two new sales directors and commercial director promotion 3

Leading invoice finance provider and fintech firm Optimum Finance has appointed two regional sales directors to fulfil the funding needs of SMEs across three UK regions alongside the promotion of Lynn-Marie Jameson to commercial director.

Kelvin Thomas joins the business as regional sales director for Wales and the West and Iain Hendry as regional sales director for the South East.

Kelvin and Iain take up their roles as Optimum Finance embarks on its new growth journey following the appointment last month of fintech expert, Anthony Persse, as new CEO.

The new appointments come off the back of a period of strong growth for the firm which funded over £100m worth of invoices and reported a growth in clientele of 56% in 2019.

Kelvin joins Optimum finance with over 25 years’ industry experience. Having previously held positions as sales director at ABN AMRO Commercial Finance and Eurofactor – Credit Agricole. He is accustomed to delivering strategic regional plans and working within the SME sector to deploy cutting-edge funding solutions.

In his role at Optimum he will be overseeing sales activity in Wales and the West, helping drive Optimum’s bespoke services to those SMEs which need financial support.

With vast experience and knowledge of the South East invoice finance market, Iain is no stranger to working with companies to provide funding options which support business owners. Having worked for Santander, Ultimate Finance and most recently commercial director of Innovation Finance, his industry knowledge is extensive.

When asked about his role, Kelvin said: “Joining the Optimum Finance team has been fantastic. I am enjoying getting to know the portfolio of businesses we work with and how we can help them.

“I am incredibly excited to be focused on expanding Optimum’s offering across Wales and the West delivering strategic plans, deal origination, business development and overseeing mixed asset and product strategies. I’m really looking forward to engaging with SME’s and creating funding solutions for them”

Iain comments on his role: “Given the current circumstances it has never been more important for SMEs to consider invoice finance to support their long-term financial health. In the past I have been part of a team which has provided SMEs with funding solutions to improve cashflow and I am excited to continue to offer this as part of the Optimum Finance team.”

Anthony Persse, CEO at Optimum Finance said: “We are pleased to welcome Kelvin and Iain and to announce the promotion of Lynn-Marie to commercial director. We have an exceptionally strong team in place as well as the drive and tenacity to provide quality, bespoke funding solutions to UK SMEs as they forge ahead in uncertain times.”

For information on the latest job opportunities at Optimum Finance, keep an eye out on https://optimumfinance.co.uk/ or contact the team at [email protected].

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