SEMs in Leeds counting the cost of COVID – but upbeat about the future

A new survey reveals that Leeds’ small to medium sized businesses believe that increased uncertainty due to Covid has cost them each, on average, £793,529 in lost revenue or turnover over the last year.

Despite this toll, there are clear signs that their overall confidence and financial health are back on the up – due, in part, to their decision to look locally for the help and support they have needed to protect and grow their business over the last year.

The new research from CitySprint, the UK’s largest same day distribution company, finds that around one in five (21%) SMEs in Leeds say their business is in better financial shape compared to 12 months ago.

Furthermore, 40% of those who were at their business 12 months ago say they are more confident about the future of their company compared to this time a year ago, indicating that the business landscape in Leeds may have turned a corner after a tough year.

The survey of decision-makers and leaders at businesses in Leeds also finds that over the last twelve months, SMEs have looked closer to home for the support they have needed to survive: 70% of those who were at their business 12 months ago in Leeds say they have looked more locally for their business needs compared to the year before, with 54% of those who did this saying they have sought suppliers from the local area and a third (35%) saying local partners. In addition, 46% in the survey also say the collaboration they have undertaken with local businesses has increased* in significance over the last 12 months.

Looking further ahead, 40% of Leeds SMEs plan to grow their customer base locally over the next twelve months, again underlining the local opportunities for growth available as we move into recovery. More than half (53%) of respondents say they are looking across the UK, while around one in five (21%) say they are also looking at international trade.

Commenting on the findings of the Leeds’ survey Rosie Bailey, Commercial Director at CitySprint, said: “It’s clear that with signs of the recovery on the horizon and the worst of the pandemic over, businesses in the area are feeling more upbeat about the year ahead. But it’s thanks in no small part to local partners, suppliers and support schemes that they have managed to successfully navigate the challenges and hurdles of recent months. It’s clear that businesses in Leeds have worked together to support each other over the pandemic, and to a stronger degree than in other parts of the country. Long may this continue.”

To help them unlock opportunity over the coming year, over a third (35%) of Leeds SMEs say more local Government support, in the form of grants or advice, would help their business.