Businesses in the Midlands enjoyed increased profits for the third year in succession according to a new study.
The Cattles Invoice Finance annual study of owner managed businesses found that 44 per cent of businesses in the region enjoyed higher profits than the previous year - the same figure as in 2002.
Just 14 per cent of companies reported a fall in profits, the lowest figure in the UK, compared with 29 per cent of businesses in the South-east.
The study, which involved in-depth interviews with 300 businesses throughout the UK across a range of sectors and with turnover between £200,000 and £10 million, found that customer retention was the main concern for businesses in the Midlands during 2004, although cash flow remained a major headache for companies in the region.
Complying with legislation and employment law changes was a bigger concern for Midland businesses than anywhere else in the UK, with 70 per cent listing it an issue compared with the national average of 56 per cent. The national skills shortage did not have as big an impact in the Midlands as other regions, as staff recruitment and performance were not seen as an issue by the majority of those questioned and were much lower than the national average.
Midlands businesses were also the most confident of all the regions in the future of the economy, with 66 per cent of companies expecting an even better business performance during the next 12 months, with just 14 per cent expecting a downturn.
Cattles regional managing director Adrian Chambers said: "This is a very positive picture for owner managed businesses in the region."