11 Mar 2014

Sales growth strongest in four years - survey

2:40 pm on 11 March 2014

Small to medium businesses have experienced the strongest level of annual sales growth in more than four years, a survey shows.

MYOB's March Business Monitor showed 35 percent reported revenue growth in the 12 months to February, a 5 percentage point increase compared with the monitor released last August.

As well, 47 percent of businesses expected their revenue to improve over 2014, up 4 percentage points, while many expected to boost wages and increase full-time employment during the next year.

MYOB chief executive Tim Reed said the growth was broad-based.

"There are some sectors that are performing better than others and one of the standouts in this is really the turnaround in manufacturing," Mr Reed said. "You only have to go back 12 months and we were having conversations about the future of manufacturing in New Zealand."

Instead, 53 percent of manufacturing and wholesaling businesses had revenue growth in the past year and only 14 percent experienced a fall.

"A whopping 70 percent believe their revenue will grow in the next 12 months, while only 1 percent believe it will fall," Mr Reed said.

Manufacturing and wholesaling were the standout sectors but most areas of the economy had improved, he said.

If there was a weakness, it was probably in retail and hospitality, with 30 percent saying it grew in the past year and 33 percent saying it contracted. However, in the year ahead, 50 percent believed their revenue would grow this year and only 14 percent believed it would contract.

Mr Reed said more firms were looking to hire and increase wages but there were concerns about the rising cost of fuel and rising inflation.