The research, which surveyed SMEs across the leisure industry, revealed that 30% of respondents don’t feel they invested sufficiently in 2012 to remain competitive, while 55% feel investment in refurbishment or new equipment would make a positive impact on their business.
When asked how optimistic they felt about 2013, 48% of those surveyed believed their business would grow in the next year, with 73% saying they were either optimistic or very optimistic about 2013.
Andrew Taylor, head of leisure for commercial banking at NatWest and RBS, comments: “It’s great to see a sense of optimism returning to the leisure market.
“In terms of investment, it is vital to be able to invest in the quality of your assets, probably more so than other industries. But it is the long-term impact which is potentially most damaging, as putting off investment in the short term could end up with businesses facing large capital expenditure bills in the future.”
NatWest and RBS’s dedicated leisure team has launched a £150m fund to support investment for the industry. The Leisure Fund has been designed specifically for businesses in the leisure sector, and comes with two six-month capital repayment holidays – allowing breathing space for investment and contingency planning.
Andrew says: “We have listened to the needs of our leisure clients and tried to design something unique to support the needs of this particular industry.
“Leisure is a key industry and one that could play a massive role in the recovery, which is why we have set up a team of specialist relationship managers who operate across the sector.
“Generating around £97b of GDP and nearly two million jobs, the industry is vital for the UK economy and we are dedicated to supporting leisure businesses.”
Visit England’s chief executive, James Berresford, adds: “It is great to see that NatWest and RBS have taken such steps to help support the leisure industry.
“Whilst over the past decade the quality of the visitor experience in England has excelled, we need to ensure that we keep on top of our game to beat off competition from overseas destinations.
“Our reputation as a top-quality, must-see destination relies on our ability to provide high-quality experiences across all sectors of the industry. Continual re-investment is therefore paramount to achieving consistency – something which is vital in securing repeat visitors and those we are welcoming for the first time.”