European SMEs Upbeat Despite Economic Gloom: Survey

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European SMEs Upbeat Despite Economic Gloom: Survey

  • Over two-thirds of SMEs in the UK are more optimistic about business opportunities than last year
  • Inflation and supply chain snarls seen as the biggest challenges ahead for SMEs in UK, France and Germany

Photo credit: Getty Images

Small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe’s three largest economies are feeling feistier about the future of their businesses, according to a survey by business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platform

Over two-thirds of these businesses in the UK (68%), Germany (68%) and France (78%) said they were more positive about growth opportunities than they were this time last year, the inaugural B2B sentiment poll found.

But challenges remain, as business owners are operating in a tough economic climate.

In January, inflation was 4% in the UK; lower than the 11.1% in late 2022 but double the Bank of England’s target of 2%. Meanwhile on the continent, German and French inflation hovers around 3%.

A higher cost of supplies can eat into small businesses’ profits and swings in pricing make it harder to budget for growth, leading nearly half (47%) of SMEs in the UK and 41% in Germany to consider inflation their biggest concern. Sme Uk 2024 Sentiment Survey Slide 1

Diving deeper into UK SME survey responses Sme Uk 2024 Sentiment Survey Slide 2 Sme Uk 2024 Sentiment Survey Slide 3

The survey was commissioned by and conducted in mid-February by research company Censuswide, who polled 1,500 decision-makers at companies with fewer than 150 employees headquartered across the three markets.

“Our research sheds light on some of the sourcing and supply chain issues that could prevent businesses from fulfilling their growth ambitions,” said Jijay Shen,’s General Manager for Europe in a statement.

Many respondents want to forge fresh business relationships and expand their supply chains but want simple and effective networking. Over two-thirds (69%) of SMEs in the UK plan to find new suppliers in the year ahead, a figure that rises to 75% in France and 81% in Germany.

“We are increasingly focusing on concepts such as one-stop sourcing to ensure that our international procurement processes run efficiently and that we can build stable and crisis-proof supplier relationships,” said Fynn Huch, co-founder and CMO of Berlin-based small business Retalos.

March Expo’s March Expo is accessible from its app and online platform for the entire month. Photo credit: Alibaba Group

March Madness

Trade fairs are the traditional physical venue for forging new relationships with suppliers. But bumping into the right partner takes time, the cost of attendance and chance – three variables that are more easily navigated online. is hosting a month-long digital campaign connecting buyers and sellers, called the March Expo, allowing small businesses to browse promotions by suppliers worldwide. More than one million products will be launched during the event. will also mark the occasion with product and supplier rankings, plus a buffet of deals accessible via a designated tab in the platform’s app.

“We are optimising and streamlining the entire sourcing journey for SMEs, enabling them to mitigate supply chain challenges and focus on what’s most important – growing their business,” said Shen.

Platform buyers can also browse a range of livestreams and virtual reality showrooms to find new factories and product lines.

Dive into more B2B stories from Europe and beyond

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