'Great showcase' for small companies

SMALL businesses in Huntingdonshire seem to be weathering the economic storm, though some retailers are finding the going tough in the short term, the Federation of Small Businesses says. With around 90 per cent of Huntingdonshire workers involved in smal

SMALL businesses in Huntingdonshire seem to be weathering the economic storm, though some retailers are finding the going tough in the short term, the Federation of Small Businesses says.

With around 90 per cent of Huntingdonshire workers involved in small and medium-sized enterprises, that is reassuring news from Malcolm Lyons, local chairman of the FSB and sponsor of The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Small Business of the Year Award 2008.

"It's a great showcase for small businesses, and we are pleased to support it as their champion," he said this week.

"In spite of the tough economic climate, I hope we shall get plenty of entries to demonstrate that smaller companies can survive in difficult times."


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Mr Lyons acknowledged that those firms that rely heavily on petrol or diesel - particularly those that rely heavily on the use of vans - had been hit strongly by the global rise in the price of crude all and its fallout at the pumps.

For the same reason, consumers had been more reluctant to spend in the high street until they saw how changes in commodity prices worked through into their household budgets, one of his retail-sector members had told him.

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"People are a little bit more cautious because of the problems they read of in the [tabloid] press, about the whole economic picture. But the best survivors are always small businesses, of which there is still a growing number.

"But some prices are down and some things are still cheap, so the rises are not across the board."

But the financial services sector has been feeling the pinch in the short term.

"I was talking to an independent financial adviser who specialises in mortgages and is having a hard time. And, until the housing market sorts itself out, small builders who rely on sub-contracting will suffer through lack of business," Mr Lyons added.

But the leisure sector seemed to be immune, he believed. "People will still want to go out."

The small business sector's great strength was that it was employers cared about their workers, the champion said. "But one of the biggest worries is inflationary pressure on wages.

"I don't think it's as bad as on previous occasions. This is a global fall-out from America and, if you have an export business, you should be doing a bit better.

"I don't get a sense of pessimism from members.

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