South West Businesses Navigate Challenges And Embrace Optimism

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London (Parliament Politics Magazine) “I believe that, like many businesses throughout the UK, businesses in the South West had a difficult year.”In an interview, Amanda Dorel, regional director for the South West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, discussed how businesses and their executives have dealt with inflation, high energy costs, and pricing increases in 2023.”Businesses throughout the South West are also informing us that they have occasionally found it difficult to locate the right skilled employment, and that’s across several different sectors,” the speaker stated.

Before the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on November 22, businesses in the South West reported higher confidence in their own business prospects month-over-month, up one point at 52%, according to the most recent Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, which was conducted between November 1 to15.

For the reasons Ms. Dorel said, business confidence in the area has wavered throughout the year. However, she expressed greater optimism for 2024, stating that enterprises in the South West are “robust.” They have been considering creative methods to stay competitive, such as expanding into new markets or diversifying into new revenue streams,” the speaker continued. “They have been examining the growth prospects.

“As they enter the new year, the banking group’s regional director is sure her clients are prepared to face the challenges 2023 will bring. She explained to BusinessLive how they investigate the IT sector and leverage data with Lloyds to find new prospects. Ms. Dorel clarified, saying, “We have seen tech businesses thrive this year, so that’s a perfect opportunity. At Lloyds Banking Group, we are aware of that and are putting some of our relationship managers and relationship directors through a program to become accredited to understand better how they can support tech businesses.”

This year, UK’s Regional Tech Report: Bristol and Bath was sponsored by Lloyds in collaboration with Womble Bond Dickson, a legal company. The study discovered that although ecosystems have expanded, resources and support systems have also changed. The digital industry in the region has seen new investments and projects, including QantX, which changed from being a group of angel investors to a venture capital fund in 2021, and UK-wide Mercia, which established a presence in Bristol in 2022. innovation businesses also increased their investment or presence; for example, Dyson constructed a £100 million innovation centre in Bristol, and BT opened a new flagship headquarters in 2023 that will employ 2,500 people. 

The £6.8 million, five-year Bristol & Bath Creative R&D initiative, financed by the AHRC, is currently in its last year of fostering creative tech partnerships. MyWorld, a five-year creative tech competition for West Midlands entrepreneurs, was launched last year by Nvidia and Digital Catapult, with funding from Innovate UK.

According to Ms. Dorel, her team’s relationship directors and managers are “gearing up for 2024 and beyond.” She advised companies to collaborate with their banks and to remain “optimistic.” We across the South West are versed in all the sectors,” she continued. Thus, my team examines trading companies and how they may help those companies reach their targets and aims. The stabilization of interest rates is the source of this optimism. According to Ms Dorel, BusinessLive, firms may now have a “stronger appetite around things like lending” given that interest rates have plateaued out, notwithstanding the rate hike’s impact over 2023 on confidence levels. Ms. Dorel observed that in 2023, there was reduced demand for items like working capital solutions and loans because of the rising interest rate environment.

She did, however, add, “They are looking more optimistically about their goals in 2024 and what they could be doing around things like new markets, new technology; and how they are looking to develop their businesses in 2024 and beyond because we are beginning to see inflation starting to fall.” They are confidently focused on the upcoming year. 

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The banking company has provided help to several firms from a variety of industries operating in the South West area throughout the year. Mitchell and Webber, a gasoline distributor with headquarters in Cornwall, is cutting carbon emissions and enhancing its selection of alternative fuels. The firm is investing in its fleet to guarantee the most carbon-efficient supply of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO). Three HVO renewable fuel tractor units were purchased in order to meet this aim; the financing came from Lloyds Bank’s Clean Growth Financing Initiative and a six-figure hire purchase.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.