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Four out of five finance directors at small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK are maintaining or increasing their investment in new equipment and machinery despite the recession, according to research by the Carbon Trust.

Three-quarters of the 200 financial decision-makers in the survey said that they were planning to increase or maintain their investment in new equipment in the first half of this year, compared with 65 per cent in the second half of 2009. The responses showed that 80 per cent thought buying energy-efficient equipment would give their firms a competitive advantage; 24 per cent viewed such investments as essential to their companies' survival; and 31 per cent expected energy to be one of their three main costs in 2010.

The Carbon Trust's "Big business refit" campaign has funded more than [pounds sterling]60m worth of equipment upgrades with interest-free loans since April 2009. So far these have provided annual energy savings of [pounds sterling]20m and saved 125,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

"The research shows understanding among finance directors that investments in energy-efficient equipment help to control costs, boost productivity and make companies more competitive," said Tom Delay, the trust's chief executive. "It reveals that financial leaders in SMEs have continued to seek opportunities to invest in their businesses despite the...

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