University of Nottingham (c)2005
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Thursday, January 9th, 2004

December's survey focused on questions about union recognition, new product development and marketing. It also included the regular quarterly 'core questions' about business and trading conditions.

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  • About the respondents

    162 respondents were drawn with the following population characteristics:

    Production & Manufacturing Distribution Services Total
    30.9% 6.8% 62.3% 100.0%

    Turnover (£)
    < 1 M 1M-3M >3M Total
    66.7% 21.6% 11.7% 100.0%

    Number of Full-time Employees
    1-10 11-20 21-50 51-100 100+ Grand Total
    51.9% 34.6% 6.2% 3.1% 4.3% 100.0%

  • The TUC are pressing for union recognition to be a right in firms with less than 22 employees. Only 12% of respondents currently have union recognition in their businesses.

  • Very few respondents would support such a measure - only 7%, although 29% have no strong views. 64% would resist it. 93% of Business Advisers, when asked how they thought small firm owners would react, in the parallel UK Business Advisers Survey, thought there would be resistance.

  • 62% of respondents to the UKBB and also 57% of respondents to the UKBAB believe that workers can get adequate recompense without a trades union.

  • While 46% of respondents are highly active in seeking opportunities for developing new products or services, 30% are also reasonably highly active in this area. The main drivers are customers requirements or requests (40%) and in response to observed opportunities (55%).

    60% of respondents restrict spending on marketing to less than 10% of their total, while a further 27% keep it under 20%. 62% reckon that word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing, with 12% favouring direct advertising.

    Constraints on business due to skill shortages have decreased slightly on average since September 2003, and this is most apparent in businesses with turnovers of less than £1M, and in the Services sector. Constraints due to lack of finance have also lessened, more among higher turnover firms of over £3M and again in the services sector.

  • Constraint due to low market demand eased back, on average, in December, having increased across the previous three quarters.

    Average growth in the last quarter was relatively stable, but within this, companies with turnover from £1m to over £3M expanded slightly while those with turnover below £1m declined somewhat. The most expansive sector amongst respondents was Production and Manufacturing.

    Overall, respondents expect a healthy expansive quarter at the beginning of 2004, across all sizes by turnover of company. Production and Manufacturing and Services expect positive growth, while Distribution on average expects a small decline.