Solent: Mid-size companies optimistic but still plan redundancies

43% of businesses in the Central South region have launched new products or services during the pandemic, according to a BDO LLP poll, which compares to a national average of 29%.

The region’s businesses have also resisted COVID-19 impacting growth plans, with 37% pushing ahead with mergers and acquisitions. This is above the national average of 25%.

Businesses in the region remain optimistic about the future. Over three quarters of companies (77%) in Central South have confidence in their resilience over the next 12 months.

The latest monthly Rethinking the Economy survey of 500 medium-sized businesses across the UK conducted by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP has revealed how businesses in Central South are facing the challenges of COVID-19 head-on. As well as launching new products and services, almost a third of companies (30%) invested in new technology in response to the pandemic, while over a quarter (27%) generally invested more in their operations.

Commenting on the findings, Helen O’Kane, partner at BDO in Southampton, said: “The region’s businesses have taken decisive and diligent action in adapting to the pandemic. In addition to investment, acquisitions and innovation, the research shows that companies have also divested parts of their businesses (30%) and automated processes (27%). These are all trends that show forward-thinking business owners are either pursuing growth or finding new efficiencies and ways of working that mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19.”

The region’s businesses continue to address the challenges of the pandemic. Around two thirds (63%) of Central South respondents are concerned about effectively managing supply chains, while over half (53%) are focused on protecting cashflow and 47% are contending with the possibility of making furloughed staff redundant. 80% of companies in the Central South region expect to make redundancies once the Government’s job retention scheme ends.

O’Kane added: “Clearly, local companies remain focused on protecting cashflows in these uncertain economic times and, unfortunately, assessing whether redundancies are required is still a reality for many businesses.

“However, a large proportion (77%) of  local companies surveyed remain confident about their resilience in the next 12 months and expect either a six month bounce back in the UK economy (33%) or just a year long recovery (50%). Such belief and positivity will help businesses to more effectively address key operational concerns and bounce back from the disruption and losses of the past six months.”