Also in the news this week - 8 January 2016

8 January 2016

Franchising at "all-time high"

The UK's franchise sector is operating at record levels with all-time highs reported in turnover, employment and numbers of franchisee-owned businesses. Franchising contributed £15.1bn to the economy last year and the sector employs 621,000 people, according to the findings of the British Franchise Association/NatWest Franchise Survey 2015. Both figures are up more than 10% since 2013. The number of franchisee-owned businesses topped 44,000 in 2015, with 97% reporting profitability and over half turning over in excess of £250,000.

Online SMEs optimistic for 2016

New research by YouGov conducted for eBay shows that 49% of small online businesses in the UK are bullish about their prospects for 2016, with only 22% pessimistic about the UK economy and their own trading forecasts. The study also showed that 13% of small online businesses expect to employ more staff this year and 40% plan to expand their product ranges. In addition, 13% say they will expand the number of global markets they reach over the next 12 months.

FSB calls for action on insurance for flood victims

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling on the Government to make sure the smallest firms are covered by the potential new Food Re scheme for small businesses. John Allan, FSB national chairman, said: "FSB research published in July 2015 demonstrated that many smaller firms struggle to access affordable flood insurance, with 9% in flood risk areas reporting difficulties and 6% reporting that they have been refused cover. As ministers and the insurance industry plan to bring in a new Flood Re scheme to back those refused cover, FSB has expressed its deep concern to ministers and the insurance industry that the smallest businesses will now be excluded. Much like households, micro-businesses are those least able to negotiate competitive insurance."

Living Wage won't dent SME hiring plans in 2016

SMEs will continue to create new jobs in 2016, despite concerns that the introduction of the National Living Wage may increase wage bills, according to research by Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks. The survey has found that 23% of SMEs say they will invest additional funds for hiring new staff in the next 12 months and 28% plan to invest more in staff training. However, the research also shows that 63% of SMEs believe the introduction of the National Living Wage in 2016 will lead to an increase in staff costs; 21% expect their salary costs to go up by as much as 10% as a result of the National Living Wage introduction.