Transport SMEs on the rise

The transport and distribution sector has seen a 22% rise in the number of SMEs since 2010 according to the latest study from specialist challenger bank Hampshire Trust Bank.

The research conducted in partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), reveals the three sectors which demonstrated higher growth were technical and professional (39%), information and communication (33%) and business services (25%). Looking at the UK as a whole, there has been a 17% rise in the number of SMEs from 2010.

Hampshire Trust Bank attributes the growth in the number of transport and distribution SMEs to the ‘Final Mile’ trend and highlights the emergence of local distribution hubs around the country to fulfil the increasing consumer demand for 24-hour delivery deadlines. This will be one of the biggest tests of agility for SMEs operating across the sector and the most successful will be those companies that can leverage local delivery to drive top-line growth — and do so profitably.

The buoyant market is translating to strong levels of confidence displayed by smaller firms in the sector. More than half (53%) of transport and distribution SMEs feel optimistic about the long-term economic prospects of the industry, just above the national average of 52%.

Jon Maycock, managing director of Asset Finance at Hampshire Trust Bank, said, ‘An increasing number of consumers are choosing to buy goods online and the market for delivery times is becoming ever more competitive. With the emergence of local distribution hubs around the country to fulfil the increasing consumer demand for 24 hour delivery deadlines, we expect that the impact of the ‘Final Mile’ trend will result in a growing number of SMEs operating in the market. That’s why firms need to be considering their vehicle needs now to ensure they continue to have the edge in a constantly changing environment.

‘The government also has an important role to play to support transport and distribution SMEs. Investment in infrastructure will be vital to ensure this sector’s SME stay on track on the road to Brexit to ensure they can continue to contribute to the strong economic performance we are currently witnessing in the UK.’

Nina Skero, managing economist at CEBR, said, ‘This study is yet another indicator of how strong UK SMEs are and the vital role they play within the UK economy. It’s encouraging to see SMEs across various industries posting a strong performance. This further highlights how vital it is to nurture the optimism they are demonstrating if they are to continue driving economic growth.’