Introduction

About the Survey Group (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

How They See It (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

How They Will Do It (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

(Download Acrobat Reader)

Executive Summary

The 2002 Survey saw a 40% response rate with thirty-eight companies responding to a total of ninety-five questionnaires sent out.  The Survey group, though somewhat smaller than previous years had a similar makeup to that of previous years with the majority of respondents representing the distribution/ retail, manufacturing and banking/ finance sectors.

2002 continued a series of difficult events over the past several years including the El Nino/ La Nina weather patterns, two highly contentious general elections, international terrorism and increased crime locally. Despite these conditions, there is evidence that a significant proportion of businesses are determined to carry on with their plans for expansion although they do appear to have contingency arrangements should conditions deteriorate.

Confidence in the economy: Six of the respondents (16%) remain fairly confident about the economy’s outlook for 2003 while one is very confident. Fifteen (40%) are not very confident  while twelve (32%) are not confident at all. This compares with last year’s results where 14% were fairly confident, 53% not very confident and 26% not confident. Seventeen (44%) of the respondents are planning to increase the scale of their operations in 2003 while 13% are planning to scale down with 42% planning no changes.

Twenty (20) respondents or 53% believe that economic conditions would be worse for privately owned businesses in the next twelve months than the past twelve months compared with 44% which believe conditions would be no different and 3% which believe that they would be more favourable.

 

Performance in 2002: When asked to assess their performance in 2002, twenty-one (55%) of respondents reported results worse than they expected, 22% more than in the previous year. Only 13 respondents (34%) considered their 2002 performance to be in line with expectations compared with 63% in 2001 while four respondents (11%) reported that their performance was better than they expected.

Outlook on the economy: From a list of fifteen items, respondents were asked to rate what national or international events, if any, made them more or less optimistic about the economy. In none of these issues did respondents express more optimism than pessimism. The issues which respondents were most pessimistic about included the local crime situation, international terrorism and war, the level of consumer confidence and corruption.

Agreement with Government’s decisions: Respondents were asked their views on the Government’s handling of three issues: measures put in place to deal with the crime situation, no bailout for distressed entities and the stalled dialogue between the President and Leader of the PNC/R. In each case, the majority of respondents were not satisfied (67%, 44% and 46% respectively) with the decisions taken by the Government.

Measures for Government to act on: The issues which the Survey group would most like the Government to deal with are implementing a plan to tackle crime (86.8%), lowering direct taxes (55.3%), enhancing governance (55.3%), controlling inflation (44.7%) and implementing a long-term plan to assist manufacturers.

Issues to impact on business in 2003: Companies were asked to rank 29 external factors most likely to impact on businesses in 2003. On a weighted basis respondents identified the crime surge, political stability (risk), electricity supply and rates, consumer spending power  and lack of confidence in the economy. In 2002 crime and lack of confidence in the economy were not considered serious concerns. Instead, exchange and interest rates were matters of greater concern.

The most important operating issues: The three most important operating issues are security/ crime, electricity supply and improving the quality of products/ services offered. While security/ crime was not an issue in 2001, both electricity supply and improvement of products/ services were ranked as the top issues.

The most important financial issues: Access to foreign currency, cash flow management and timely flow of financial information are the highest ranked financial issues this year compared with cash flow managment, access to capital and timely flow of information in 2001.

Planning and budgeting: All respondents to the Survey review performance against their budgets. Eighty-two percent (82%) do this on a monthly basis, 7% quarterly, 5% half-yearly and 2% bi-monthly. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of these companies claim that they operate with a formal business plan with 11 companies (34%) preparing projections for a three-year period, 9 (28%) for a one year period 5 (15%) for a two-year period, 3 each for five years and more than 5 years respectively and one for four years.  

HR Issues: Forty-eight percent (48%) of respondents reported changes in their workforces. 10% had increases averaging 6.5% while 19% had decreases averaging 26%. 70% of the respondents did not provide ranges for increases or decreases in workforces. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of respondents expect no changes in workforce size in 2003 while thirty-two percent (32%) project increases and twenty-four percent (24%) project decreases.

Although retention of key personnel  is a key HR issue respondents consider employment levels and employment cost as two likely areas they will cut back on if faced with financial difficulties.

Exports: 34% of the Survey group are engaged in exporting their products to various markets. Twelve companies export to Caricom, six companies to North America, two companies export to South and Central America, six companies export to Europe and two companies export to other markets.

Competition: 32% of the respondents are not exposed to any foreign competition while 21% are exposed to just a little. 18% are exposed to a fair amount while 26% are exposed to a great deal of foreign competition.

Outlook on profitability: The expectations of company performance over the past three years is as follows:

                                                                      2001    2002    2003

                                                                        %         %         %

Turnover to increase                                      76        57        68

Profitability to increase                                 82        83        50

Turnover to decrease                                     12        27        16

Profit to decrease                                           18        17        29

No increase or decrease in turnover             6          8          11

Don’t know                                                    6          8          5

The respondents who expect their turnover to increase attribute the principal reasons for this increase to competitive pricing, entering new markets, product/ service improvements and increased productivity.

Cutbacks: In the event of limited financial resources companies are most likely to cut back on their capital invesment programmes, employment levels, advertising and PR and employment cost. To cushion the effects of recent financial difficulties, respondents propose to pursue cost reduction exercises, entering new markets, providing more training to staff and new product development as initiatives they would pursue.

Reasons for downscaling: The local crime situation, political uncertainties and the performance of the economy are all reasons for respondents planning to scale back their operations in 2003.

Growth strategies: The top strategies identified by respondents planning to expand in 2003 are improvement of existing products, new product/ service development,  upgrading of technology and and investment in advertising/ PR programmes.

In order to drive the projected growth of their business, twenty-three respondents plan to raise capital for the following reasons:

ü      To finance capital expenditure programmes

ü      To fund new products/ services

ü      To expand geographic markets

ü      To fund current operations such as working capital

Sources of capital: Respondents are most likely to use cash flow/ operating profits, long-term bank debts, joint-ventures and short-term bank debts as chief sources of capital in the upcoming year.

The following pages offer a more detailed evaluation of the responses.

About the Survey Group (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

How They See It (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

How They Will Do It (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

 

Click here to Download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.