18 January 2001 | Cathy Hayward
A leading academic has criticised Welsh small and medium-sized enterprises as "too inward-looking and uncreative".
A report by Professor Michael Quayle, head of the University of Glamorgan's business school and Bosch chair in purchasing and supply, found that two-thirds of Welsh SMEs deal with only Welsh suppliers and customers.
The report also found that more than three-quarters had no supply chain strategy. Quayle claimed these SMEs were being held back from taking advantage of business opportunities outside Wales because of it.
"Welsh SMEs are retrenched in their own problems," said Quayle. "They are more concerned with leadership and team-building issues than with supply chain management."
Quayle blamed central and local government business services for the situation. "Business support services in Wales are poor. The Welsh Development Agency, for example, encouraged inward investment but failed to direct this towards SMEs and their suppliers. Support services must be reshaped to pull Welsh SMEs out of their cocoons," he said.
But the WDA hit back, claiming that it had an excellent record in integrating investors in Wales with local suppliers.
Last May, the WDA set up a £5 million e-business introduction scheme for SMEs, including advice and consultancy for around 1,500 companies at a third of the normal cost.
Quayle's comments follow a report on Welsh SMEs by the Federation of Small Businesses last year. It revealed that more than half of SMEs were dissatisfied with government-funded business support services. The quality of the business advisers and the lack of advisers' understanding of individual businesses were the key problems.