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British mid-market firms are punching above weight, says study

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According to the study by business management software and services provider Sage, the employment they provide, their productivity and their value outstrip their size.

Currently, 26,600 mid-market firms account for just 1.5 per cent of the 1.82m registered enterprises in the UK’s business economy. Despite this, they were found to contribute 17 per cent of the country’s total gross valued added (GVA) output in 2014 – having experienced growth of 33 per cent since 2009.

At the same time, the sector has experienced a surge in employment with 260,000 jobs created over the past six months alone and further growth of 5.3 per cent expected over the next five years, according to Sage’s Economic Impact Report, a snapshot of the state of Europe’s mid-market – defined according to the European standard as companies with between 50-249 employees.

The research, undertaken with the Centre for Economics and Business Research and Redshift Research, analysed the contribution of mid-sized enterprises to 12 major economies of the EU.

Of all the European countries included within the study, the UK has seen the most growth in terms of mid-market employment in the years since the 2008-09 downturn. Employment figures for the sector currently stand at 3.02m, but this set to rise to 3.18m by 2019.

The survey also found that mid-sized enterprises are highly optimistic about the coming year. The overwhelming majority (73 per cent) said turnover would stay the same or grow by up to 50 per cent. Expectations for hiring were even more buoyant with 70 per cent expecting staff numbers to grow in the next year. This was the highest proportion across 12 European countries in the survey.

Read more about mid-market UK firms:

Jayne Archbold, CEO at Sage Enterprise Market Europe, said: “Mid-sized businesses play a critical role in driving economic growth in the UK, and across Europe. They are ambitious, with high levels of productivity and impressive employment stats. At a time when many businesses were struggling, this sector grew by 33 per cent. They should be viewed as the unsung heroes of the economy. Looking ahead, an improving demand outlook and easing financial position suggest robust mid-market growth in the medium-term in the UK.”

The poll found that the UK’s mid-market employees are the hardest working across Europe. According to results, 70 per cent work occasionally after regular working hours, 55 per cent at the weekend, 28 per cent on vacation and 26 per cent when ill. Just 5 per cent work on none of these occasions, which compares to the European average of 12 per cent and, for instance, 17 per cent in France.

The research also showed that mid-market firms in the UK’s business economy generated £165bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) during 2014, with this contribution having expanded by 33 per cent since 2009. Mid-market GVA will increase by a further 20 per cent, reaching £199bn by 2019 in nominal terms, said the study.

Manufacturing is the UK’s largest mid-market in absolute terms, contributing £39bn in GVA during 2014, as well as relative to the industry as a whole, equivalent to 24 per cent of manufacturing GVA in that year.

The European Economic Impact report analyses the contribution of mid-sized firms to the economies of the EU. The main data source used for analysing the mid-sized sector was Eurostat’s structural business statistics (SBS) database. This dataset is compiled through enterprise surveys, administrative surveys and business registers.

The mid-market snapshot survey was conducted among 814 business decision makers in 12 countries working in mid-sized European enterprises (50-499 staff).

Image: Shutterstock

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