75% of Business Leaders in Norwich think they’ll go bust this year…

Danny Williams
Danny Williams

By Danny Williams, MD, Pioneer Trading

I note that Business Leader magazine, a publication owned by non-other than the omnipresent Andrew Scott, (he of the Glazing Summit, Purplex Marketing and numerous others) is reporting in the January online edition that 57% of business leaders reckon their businesses were at risk of going bust this year

But if you are a business located in Norwich, then you are right on the edge: owners in that city reckon their chances rise to almost 75% of not seeing the year out. Maybe move to another area pronto!

Manchester was the next ‘City of Doom’ where more than 67% of business leaders questioned in the survey conducted (by Towergate Insurance) believed they were at risk of closure. 62.5% of London based business leaders questioned, were bitten by the same pessimism bug.

There is some respite for window and door businesses in that HR firms are at greatest risk, presumably recruitment companies that can’t find the people that the rest of us so desperately need; amongst ‘manufacturing and utilities’, the closest broad definition within which window and door businesses might be included, 60% of business owners believed they would last just a few more months.

Supply chain delays were credited by 32% of businesses as being the primary threat to their existence, with ‘retaining uniqueness’ being the next problem.

Interestingly, ‘paying back loans’ was in fourth place, presumably including many of those that took out Covid loans to put the deposit on a Ferrari or some other frivolity, when the business was fine without it. It’s payback time!

Beneath that headline in Business Leader, is the news that the ‘UK economy exceeded expectations in November due to the World Cup’. In addition to providing millions of Englishmen with a further reminder that we have some way to go to win a trophy at this level, the good news is that in finding that out, we spent so much cash that it tipped the balance away from a dip in GDP that would have formally put us into recession.

Despite us hovering over the precipice, the column reports that retailers reported stronger than expected earnings in Q4, which I thought was perfectly characterised by the likes of JD Sports, which saw a whopping 20% rise in sales in the six weeks to Christmas.

That’s a lot of extra fancy trainers.

We at Pioneer ended the year well, with solid sales during the autumn and up to Christmas, but which also allowed us to prep for the return-to-work post-Christmas; in other words, back in control with sales in early January and the pipeline comparing favourably with 2019. That suits me just fine and it looks like it will continue that way.

Anecdotally, everywhere seems busy; friends report that despite the doom and gloom reported through news channels, they struggle to get a walk-in table at their favourite eateries, bars are full as are the roads, especially those around airports.

And builders, plumbers, sparkies and every other trade, continue to be up to their necks. Oh, and adding to the highly accurate research upon which this is all based, my bank manager says that of around 150 commercial customers, all but two are in rude health. There you go.

It’s early days, but not only is business decent at the moment, it’s certainly better than the press would have us believe, including this strangely pessimistic survey.

Or perhaps it’s different in Norwich and Manchester and even down the road in London from where I live in Essex.

In what was obviously just a snapshot of the survey carried out amongst 750 small to medium business owners, astonishingly there were no bright spots whatsoever.

I disagree: I may be wrong, but I think we are in for a reasonable year.