Confidence fuelled by online shopping surge

Confidence fuelled by online shopping surge

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Ravi Karia ships his products all over the world

Ravi Karia ships his products all over the world

One city retailer, Universal Textiles, has seen turnover reach £12.7 million, thanks to a combination of growing demand at home and abroad and the support of distributors such as Amazon.

The business was only launched in 2005 and by 2011 was doing about £1.2 million of business a year selling everything from socks and thermal underwear to hats, gloves and bedding.

Many of the company’s products are shipped through Amazon Marketplace – the e-commerce platform owned and operated by the global online business.

Amazon recently opened a vast, one million sq ft distribution centre near Coalville, to help it meet demand.

That followed a £100 million building project and created hundreds of new jobs.

It comes as a new small and medium sized business survey called the SME Growth Tracker – commissioned by Amazon and small business advisers Enterprise Nation – suggests growing business confidence.

Ravi Karia, who bought new premises in Hinckley Road, Leicester, three years ago to cope with the big increase in business, was predicting another healthy year ahead, with further growth in staffing and profits.

He said: “2017 has started really well for Universal Textiles, building on the growth from a fantastic 2016.

“We feel confidence is on the up and that’s playing a big part in helping our business reach its potential.

“The East Midlands is a great place to do business, but being able to widen our reach and connect with customers all over the world through platforms like Amazon Marketplace means there’s no limit to what SMEs like us can achieve.”

The quarterly growth tracker surveys 1,000 small and medium sized businesses up and down the country.

Across the East Midlands, it found:

  • Business conditions predicted to improve in the next 12 months
  • SME revenue predicted to grow by 2.4 per cent in the next 12 months, compared with 1 per cent in the previous 12
  • SMEs anticipate increasing headcount by 1.2 per cent in the coming 12 months, versus 0.8 per cent in the previous 12 months
  • Local SMEs expect profits to rise by 1.4 per cent, up from 0.6 per cent

Nationally, there is further business confidence, but there are also concerns about rising costs and inflation.

Simon Johnson, UK director of seller services at Amazon, said: “We are seeing a big rebound in confidence amongst British SMEs after a significant decline in December, but small business leaders remain concerned about the impact of rising supply costs and higher price inflation.”

Emma Jones, the founder of Enterprise Nation and a government representative for small business, said: “The SME community powers Britain’s economy and continues to show resilience in the face of uncertain times, but the Government must take heed of increasing concerns about the negative impact of rising supply costs on small business.

“This year in particular, they are facing increasing responsibility for a number of issues including auto enrolment for pensions.

“We want to make sure the Government understands the important role they play in the British economy and listens with conviction to their opportunities and challenges.”