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Business growth confidence on the decline for van fleets

UK van drivers, owners and operators are going through a small but sustained business growth confidence dip, although the majority of the industry are still optimistic about future prospects.

The latest Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Barometer suggests a small but sustained business confidence fall among fleets.
The latest Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Barometer suggests a small but sustained business confidence fall among fleets.

Latest research from Mercedes-Benz Vans’ Business Barometer – which was founded in April 2017 to carry out quarterly surveys of businesses large and small – shows a dip of five percentage points from the initial results sampling and marking a second consecutive fall following the November 2017 phase two research.

Conducted among an independent sample of 2,000 van drivers, owners, operators and fleet managers, the February 2018 phase three research points towards a less optimistic outlook for the year ahead.

However, the latest results still show that 85% of respondents feel confident their business will grow over the next 12 months.

The phase three figures also show that protracted Brexit negotiations and continued uncertainty are beginning to chip away at ‘Brexit belief’ amongst van drivers, owners and operators.

Although Britain’s van drivers, owners and operators are still more likely to think Brexit will improve the prospects of their business (28%) rather than damage it (20%), the gap has closed from the last lot of results, carried out in November 2017, when the figures stood at 32% and 19% respectively.

Meanwhile a total 55% of respondents say their business will increase the number of vans they own or operate in the next 12 months – a slight decline from 58% in the previous phase.

A total of 43% of respondents believe the success of their business will depend more on vans in the future, and just 4% say their business will be less reliant on vans – almost unchanged from prior phases.

Steve Bridge, managing director, Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, said: “It is concerning that while confidence is high amongst van owners and operators, the trend is on a decline, and while uncertainty continues to circulate around ‘Brexit’ and the economy, the knock-on effect on the investment within businesses is potentially stagnant.

“Our hope is that ‘normal service’ is resumed soon, as van owners and operators are a life blood to the United Kingdom, keeping our businesses, and indeed lives, moving.”

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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