UK companies in Singapore report higher sales, more hiring: BritCham

SINGAPORE – British businesses in the Republic showed signs of sales recovery and higher recruitment, even amid ongoing concerns about issues like travel and entry restrictions, according to a survey by the British Chamber of Commerce Singapore (BritCham).

Forty-three per cent of businesses reported an increase in sales in the past six months, BritCham’s inaugural business sentiment survey found. It will be conducted twice a year.

The outlook for future sales is positive, with orders and bookings either remaining constant or increasing for 77 per cent of businesses, said BritCham.

BritCham surveyed 80 companies between June 17 and June 25. The majority of the respondents were in fields including accounting, construction, financial services, IT & Services, and management consulting.

Cashflow improved for 36 per cent of respondents – an overall increase balance of 11 per cent – but 28 per cent of businesses experienced a contraction in investment plans.

Confidence in Singapore remains high within the chamber’s business community, at 83 per cent, although this was a decrease from the 94 per cent recorded in an earlier membership survey in February.

“Asean is increasingly critical for businesses located in Singapore, with 94 per cent reporting that the region remains a priority for their business and 79 per cent to a high degree,” said BritCham.

The total workforce increased or remained constant for 80 per cent of businesses in the first half of the year.

Nearly three-quarters of businesses were hiring during this period and an overall net 19 per cent expect an increase in their workforce over the next six months.

A company in the recruitment sector said it has seen an uplift in hiring across all vertical markets and employers seem much more accustomed to hiring and onboarding staff remotely.

Foreign manpower contracted 18 per cent on the whole within the total employee base, as the proportion of businesses with a decrease (25 per cent) was higher than those with increases (7 per cent), according to BritCham’s survey.

The chamber quoted another company which said: “With the restrictions on Employment Pass (EP) holders and Dependent’s Pass (DP) holders entering the country, many talented foreign workers are choosing to leave Singapore to the detriment of our company.”

Issues faced in the recruitment scene include a lack of local applicants applying for advertised roles, pandemic-related restrictions in the EP application process and inbound travel suspension for work pass holders, and the recently announced letter of consent rule changes.

From May 1 this year, foreigners staying in Singapore on DPs need a work pass in order to work here, instead of a letter of consent.

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