Hampshire firms ‘reviewing business plans to stay afloat’, says Chamber

More than two-thirds of Hampshire companies are likely to be reviewing business plans and financial forecasts in response to economic conditions, according to new analysis.
Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, in its last quarterly members’ survey of 2011, found 70% of respondents were redefining plans and targets in view of the gloomy outlook.
Fewer firms reported any increase in sales or orders compared to the previous quarter and there were further weak statistics around recruitment, investment and cashflow.
Captain Jimmy Chestnutt, Chief Executive of Hampshire Chamber, said: “The survey confirms that many Hampshire companies are being forced to rethink their strategies so they can stay afloat, generate income and aim for prosperity.
“This is a worrying time and we are in for some seriously challenging times ahead.  The government must do all it can to manage the downward pressures on business and maintain confidence in the regional and national economies.”
Less than a third of members (32%) reported any increase in UK sales, seven per cent down on the previous three months. Only a fifth (21%) saw an increase in orders, eight per cent lower than before.
Exporters also signalled a challenging time. Just 11% saw an increase in overseas sales compared with 17% in the previous quarter. Only eight per cent saw an increase in orders, down two per cent on the three months before.
Nineteen per cent of respondents reported an improved cashflow picture as opposed to 37% in the third quarter. Thirty per cent reported an adverse position compared to 22% before.
Only 16% of companies have increased investment compared with 34% in the last quarter while the numbers still recruiting staff were also slightly down from 54% to 46%.
Capacity remains sluggish with 73% of firms claiming not to be working at their full potential, marginally up on last quarter.
Over the coming year, less than a third of companies (32%) expect to increase profitability and under half (45%) predict growing turnover.
The survey follows dismal nationwide figures for retailers suggesting that retailing is at a crossroads with the downturn in consumer spending and confidence set to continue.
The British Retail Consortium and KPMG said November was the worst month for national retail sales growth since May.
Captain Chestnutt added: “This is a concern that will need to be addressed as our region develops core strategies and puts into effect plans for growth.”
For more information, visit www.hampshirechamber.co.uk.