Belfast Telegraph

Firms cut costs to combat slump

Pensions are big news these days, whether it's political announcements that we are to work longer before we become eligible for the state pension or announcements of short falls amongst personal pension investments.

MORE than half of businesses in Northern Ireland are continuing to struggle with the impact of the recession, a new survey has revealed.

Business Pulse Survey 2009 highlighted that 57% of Northern Ireland businesses specify cost cutting as their most significant business change.

However, local businesses are also more prone to seek business advice than their GB counterparts, according to the UK-wide survey commissioned by BT.

James Devlin, head of business sales, BT said: "This and other recent research shows that there is no doubt that firms are still struggling with the impact of the economic downturn. However it also demonstrates that business owners in Northern Ireland have used the recession as an opportunity to make positive changes.

"Local businesses have a strong desire to seek and share information even though availability of advice can be difficult to access.

"Small Business Week provides an ideal opportunity for local businesses to access information in areas such as cost cutting."

The survey also revealed that as the recession continues to bite, almost half of Northern Ireland's small to medium sized businesses say that it has made their companies change the way they operate for the better.

Almost half (46%) claim that the recession has encouraged them to focus on managing their costs better, being more innovative and marketing their businesses in a smarter way.

Having a web presence was also deemed more important to local SMEs than in any other area, with 77% seeing it as very important.

With more than one billion people estimated to have access to the internet, the web has potential to expose a company to a much larger audience than was previously possible. In the UK, more than 70% of the population is now online and spends an average of 33 hours per month surfing the web.

Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, said: "The survey shows that although the recession has had an impact on local businesses, the majority have been keen to adapt to the changing climate."