Future is bright for European business

A study shows that business confidence is strong in Europe, and especially in the UK

Sixty per cent of European companies are showing signs of confidence about the future despite poor global trading conditions, according to the latest research.

The Gartner study, called "Business confidence: a blueprint for better business", is based on an index created by the analyst house to gauge the emotional and physical state of European business. To determine the score of the 973 organisations polled, Gartner analysed the performance, culture, investment strategy and customer focus of every company, while taking into account the economy each company operates within. The overall business confidence score is an aggregate of the five perspectives.

The scores of the top 20 companies ranged between 76 and 67 with a theoretical maximum of 100. The top 20 contains nine UK companies, five from Spain, two from France, and one from Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden. The first company from Belgium ranks 30th in the index.

With a business confidence score of 76, an unnamed UK-based engineering company beat off stiff competition from the other 972 organisations across Europe to take first place in the index.

Looking at the vertical markets in which the top 20 companies operate, five are in the transport and leisure sector, three from manufacturing and one from finance. The remaining 11 companies all work in the "other" category which encompasses industries such as IT and telecoms, retail, and services.

Andy Green, CEO, BT Ignite -- which commissioned the survey -- said: "The findings challenge traditional thinking that suggests that economic concerns and bottom line performance dictate business confidence. The truth is that it is the culture of a company and its confidence to invest for the future which determines a firm's fitness."

However, in gloomier news, a Merrill Lynch survey has found there is little hope of IT budgets growing next year. Two-thirds of the European CIOs polled by the investment bank expect their budgets to be flat or down in 2003.

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