Opportunities and Investment Priorities for SMEs: Insights into these aspects in 2023, their evolution from 2021, and most importantly, the implications for the leasing industry.

Two years ago, when Covid-19 was an all-encompassing part of life, we asked SMEs about their plans to invest in assets. At the time, 52% of businesses predicted that it would take between 1-2 years before they would be looking to invest in new assets – the caution that many businesses expressed appeared to be as a direct result of the pandemic and the subsequent changes to the way people worked. The appetite to invest in some assets was naturally curbed given that the likelihood of employees returning to the office was uncertain at best.

Fast forward to 2023 when we asked the same question and found that half (50%) of European SMEs are likely to invest in new assets to assist growth within the next 12 months. This paints a much more encouraging picture for the asset finance industry, as SMEs look to boost their assets to grow their business.

The research revealed that, across Europe, it was Spain that had the highest amount of SMEs planning to invest in new business equipment and assets within the next 12 months. 66% of Spanish SMEs are looking to invest in new assets, compared with France where 43% of businesses surveyed are set to invest over the next year.

In terms of the type of investments these businesses are looking to make, our survey shows an increase in the number of SMEs planning to invest in office furniture. This has risen from 9% in 2021 to 20% in 2023, and in Germany, 27% of businesses that took part in the survey said they were looking to invest in office furniture.  There has also been an increase in those planning to invest in computers and IT equipment since 2021, rising from 25% to 33%. Poland saw the highest number of SMEs looking to invest in these products, compared to any other country across Europe, with over half (52%) of businesses committed to doing this.

These are promising figures and from a leasing perspective, represent a huge opportunity for the industry as more businesses recognise the numerous benefits that come with leasing equipment. In fact, our research shows that more SMEs are opting for leasing as their most preferred type of business option with nearly a third (32%) having plans to fund investment this way.

Now is the time for the industry to jump on this shift – at Acquis, we are proud to support our partners and clients as these opportunities continues to unfold.

The research, which surveyed over 1,250 SME decision makers across Europe, can be found in more detail in our market research report, “Opportunity in Change”, which was released in July 2023. You can download the full research report here.