Northland strongly confident

By Imran Ali

Revenue expectations of Northland business owners this year is among the highest in the country, a survey has revealed.

A Colmar Brunton national survey of more than 1000 small to medium enterprises (SMEs) said 39 per cent of Northland and Bay of Plenty businesses expected revenue to be up this year, followed by Otago (36 per cent), Hawkes Bay (35 per cent), Waikato (32 per cent) and Manawatu (31 per cent).

The survey was conducted on behalf of MYOB, one of New Zealand's largest business management software providers.

MYOB said Northland SMEs faced a difficult trading environment, especially in the last two quarters of 2012 when 40 per cent reported a fall and 23 per cent a rise in revenue in the past year.

This compared with a fall and rise of 35 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively, in June 2012.

Northland was also optimistic about the prospects for the wider economy, with 53 per cent believing it will improve within 18 months, compared with 48 per cent nationally.

In terms of region by highest net revenue, Northland languished in third highest behind Waikato (36 per cent) and Otago (31 per cent).

Manawatu and Hawkes Bay were jointly at 22 per cent and Bay of Plenty came in at 21 per cent.

"Many Northland businesses expect a solid first quarter for 2013, with 35 per cent reporting a larger workload than usual in the next three months. For 42 per cent, it is business as usual," MYOB's James Scollay said.

He said Northland business owners were no different to others around the country, who have so far proven to be resilient throughout the recovery.

Fuel prices, cash flow and interest rates were major concerns for many businesses.

"Seventy-nine per cent of Northland business owners and managers expect to face some level of pressure from rising fuel prices and cash flow this year.

"What's surprising, though, is that another major pressure faced by Northland businesses is interest rates," he said.

"Sixty-four per cent of businesses stated interest rates are a pressure, a proportion that has increased since the last monitor where only 57 per cent of businesses reported it as a concern."

Mr Scollay said it was important for local businesses to get help from their accountants and advisers in order to manage the challenges that lie ahead.

Nationally, almost one-quarter, or 24 per cent, of business operators expected the economy to improve within 12 months compared with 18 per cent in June 2012.

Two-thirds expected improvements in more than one year and the remainder were unsure.

- Northern Advocate

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