Cambridge businesses coping with the recession

Michael Fotis - News Reporter 27 October 2009

Despite the chorus of doom and gloom, new research has revealed the unexpectedly mixed impacts of the recession on small businesses in Cambridge.  A study conducted by Barclays Bank has concluded that the recession has created ‘leaner and better equipped businesses.’

Of the 1000 local businesses surveyed, 64% of all respondents felt the recession has made their business more efficient, and around a quarter of businesses claimed that the recession has made them chase late payments more vigorously. Among the other positives, 30% reported an increased focus on customer service. Moreover, 32% of those surveyed believe that they have not been affected by the recession.

According to Peter Duda, proprietor of city-centre food establishment ‘The Trailer of Life’ told The Cambridge Student (TCS), “In terms of this year compared to last year, there has been no difference.”

However, the recession has negatively impacted some of the city’s businesses, with 42% reporting increased working hours as a result.

The impact of the recession is far from ‘black and white. ‘ Hence while 6% of local businesses reported recession-related redundancies, 22% have declared that they are now paying more attention to staff loyalty and retention.

Neil Fewtrell, Head of Barclays Local Business Eastern, said: “This research gives us the clearest understanding yet as to how small businesses are coping with the recession and, clearly, businesses are finding the upside of adversity whenever they can. Cambridge firms in particular have taken a pragmatic approach by tackling head-on the big challenges such as improving their business strategy, increasing innovation and focusing on their employees. Lessons have been learnt and I am sure in some cases the hard way.”

The businesses surveyed were also asked how they would spend a hypothetical £100k cash injection. 24% of business owners said they would move or expand to new facilities, possibly taking advantage of lower property costs. An equal percentage said they would focus on clearing debts.

Michael Fotis – News Reporter