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Study takes a look at life in the fast lane.

Nearly two-thirds of UK businesses have increased their turnover in the past 12 months, with almost a quarter achieving rapid growth, according to research by HSBC Bank.

The survey shows that despite the dot-com backlash, IT and electronic companies saw greatest growth along with professional services and construction firms.

Agriculture and manufacturing were worst hit, although the outlook for these in 2004 is more promising.

HSBC Bank's 2003 study about business life in the fast lane is one of the largest business surveys ever undertaken, researching more than 20,000 UK businesses.

It looks at all sizes and sectors of business, and defines companies according to growth -fast lane companies grew turnover by more than 20 per cent, middle lane by up to 20 per cent, companies in the inside lane saw no growth, and companies in reverse experienced a decline in sales.

Almost half (47 per cent) of businesses are optimistic about future market conditions, especially small businesses with an annual turnover of up to pounds 500,000.

IT, electronic and construction companies remain optimistic, while those in distribution and manufacturing appear to be more pessimistic, along with those with overseas interests, who blame the strong pound.

More than half of businesses say that having the most satisfied customers in the market is a major priority for the next 12 months. Customer satisfaction is also an important acquisition tool -more than 30 per cent of respondents consider customer recommendation to be their best sales mechanism.

The most effective sales tool, however, is face-to-face selling, which scores best for nearly half of businesses.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 27, 2003
Words:263
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