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NEWS - 28. February 2018 14:35

SEB survey: Baltic SMEs expect a stable financial year and are moderately optimistic about the future

Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are expecting a stable financial year and although 3-4 per cent economic growth is expected in the Baltic states this year, the optimism of SMEs has not grown notably over the years, as indicated by SEB’s annual survey Baltic Business Outlook.

According to the survey organised among more than 4,200 Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian enterprises, the proportion of optimists, that is, enterprises expecting at least 15 per cent growth in turnover, has not changed much. SMEs with the most positive view on the financial year are enterprises from Lithuania and Estonia, the per cent of optimists among which was 13, while in Latvia, this per cent was 9. The share of pessimists, that is enterprises predicting a decrease in turnover, was highest in Estonia (28 per cent).

“Lithuania has managed to maintain its leadership in terms of optimism; still the differences are small and the sense of security of Baltic SMEs is very good. In Estonia, the share of enterprises predicting a decrease in turnover has increased two percentage points over the year, supported by a good economic outlook. Among the biggest optimists in Estonia are the processing industry and retail trade, and among the pessimists, the dominating sectors are once again retail trade and accommodation and catering establishments. Out of the counties, the SMEs of Rapla County besides Harju County also look forward to this year with great hope,” said Ainar Leppänen, Member of the Management Board, Head of Retail Banking and Technology Area at SEB Pank. According to Leppänen, the controversial signals from retail trade are most likely related to the impacts of cross-border trade.

Lithuanians are investing and looking at foreign markets

According to the survey, Latvian SMEs – even 83 per cent – continue to focus on their home market most. In Estonia, the situation has not changed much in a year and a quarter of SMEs focus on foreign markets. Lithuanians are the boldest in terms of acting on foreign markets (34 per cent of respondents).

No major changes have occurred in the investment activity of SMEs – nearly 80 per cent of SMEs in all Baltic countries plan investments, and investments greater than EUR 30,000 are planned by Lithuanian enterprises the most – 20 per cent of respondents, while in Estonia, this indicator remained on the previous year’s level of 13-14 per cent. It is important to note that the share of enterprises abstaining from investments has notably dropped in Latvia, to 19 per cent, from 40 per cent.

Digitisation, essential to increasing market penetration and company growth, is deemed very important by nearly 60 per cent of Estonian and Lithuanian SMEs, while the same indicator in Latvia is 30 per cent.

“Innovation, that is, primarily digitisation and implementation of new technology opens up new development trends for enterprises and SEB sees that SMEs have room for improvement in this area. I am pleased to note that many enterprises have already joined SEB’s Growth Programme, aimed at helping the enterprises to grow, not at the same pace as the market, but even faster,” said Leppänen.

For the sixth consecutive year, SEB Grupp organised a survey in the Baltic countries, mapping the expectations of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for the 2018 financial year. The new edition of Baltic Business Outlook presents a summary of the project and profiles the views of the 4,200 Baltic SMEs that completed the survey.
Read the survey

For more information:

Evelin Allas
Communications Manager
Marketing and Communications Division

Phone +372 665 5649
Mobile: +372 511 1718
Address Tornimäe 2, 15010 Tallinn

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