Grant Thornton research: Global optimism for East Midlands’ businesses

New research from the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) has found that the UK ended 2014 as one of the world’s most optimistic economies, ranked in the top five international economies.

Later this month, the Leicester office of Grant Thornton UK LLP is hosting an ‘International Growth’ breakfast briefing to give East Midlands businesses the latest information to harness this regional optimism and support local businesses planning an international growth strategy for 2015.

Partner and Practice Leader in Leicester, Chris Frostwick, explains: “The IBR shows that global business optimism for 2014 stood at an average of 41%, compared to 28% in 2013 and just 12% in 2012.

“Planning for international growth is a key stage in achieving a business’ commercial objectives, whether taking the first steps into global markets, entering new markets, or strengthening existing international offerings and strategies. The first in our 2015 FD Club Briefings is set to channel and harness this optimism, and deliver the latest technical updates and strategic thinking on this important element of the region’s businesses growth and sustainability.”

The Grant Thornton ‘FD Club’ International Growth Breakfast event is free to attend and takes place on Wednesday 28th January 2015 at the firm’s offices in Leicester.

The Grant Thornton IBR found that although UK business optimism declined on a quarterly basis (from 82% in Q3 2014 to 68% in Q4 2014), the UK still ranked amongst the top five economies in the world in Q4, just ahead of the United States. Taken on a full-year rolling average, the UK remains within the top five most optimistic economies over the year, at 79% – the country’s highest annual average in more than 10 years and well above the global average of 41%.

However, in Q4, global optimism dropped from 43% to 35%, driven by steep falls in the United states (down 10 percentage points to 59%), China (down 30pp to 25%) and Japan (down 12pp to -12%).

Supporting this optimism amongst UK business leaders, the data shows positive year-on-year expectations amongst businesses for: employment (+12%), revenue and profit (both +9%) and exports (+2%). Moreover, only 8% of UK businesses pointed to access to short-term finance as a potential constraint; the lowest amongst global economies surveyed.

Commenting on the findings of the IBR, Chris Frostwick said: “In many ways, 2014 was the first year since the 2008/09 financial crises where businesses felt they were really back on track. The measures adopted to cope with the downturn helped many of them turn into leaner and more nimble operations, the fruits of which are now ripening. Consequently, UK businesses are entering the new year on a stronger footing.”

Globally, the IBR reveals that while business confidence in 2014 climbed to levels not seen since before the financial crisis, a recent spate of uncertainty is weighing on growth prospects for the year ahead. With the price of oil plummeting, the future of the eurozone still far from secure, tensions in Ukraine and concern around the pace of the slowdown in China, the confidence of business leaders, especially in the world’s largest three economies, has slipped as we enter 2015.

“Business confidence is a key indicator of future economic performance,” added Chris Frostwick. “The large rise in global optimism in 2014 came as a pleasant surprise after a couple of tough years but the dip in global optimism in the last three months demonstrates just how inter-connected the world is today.”

To reserve a place at Grant Thornton Leicester’s International Growth FD Club event, contact Charlotte Mawby: [email protected].