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25 January 2013 | Anna Reynolds
Customer growth is the top priority for UK CEOs as emerging markets present further business opportunities, according to PwC’s annual survey.
The three key areas UK CEOs want to focus their attention on are: reshaping their business to adapt to the changing world; building relationships and trust with stakeholders - such as customers and shareholders; and finding and retaining talent.
Expanding the customer base and improving operational effectiveness were the two most popular areas of investment for UK leaders. In addition, 83 per cent of bosses in Britain are planning cost-reduction initiatives, more than the global average.
The report also asked CEOs what they saw as the main opportunity for growth in the next year. Securing raw materials or components was lowest on the list, cited by less than 10 per cent of global CEOs.
CEOs in the UK also scored higher than others on the intention to build an ethical behaviour framework over the next year to improve relationships with customers, and 91 per cent of UK CEOs are looking to increase customer engagement through social media, compared with a global average of 78 per cent.
The 16th Annual Global CEO Survey was based on 1,330 interviews conducted in 68 countries during the last quarter of 2012.
When asked which non-domestic market is most important to their overall growth prospects next year, UK CEOs put the US first at 24 per cent, followed by China, 19 per cent, Germany and France, both 11 per cent. The results differed from last year when 40 per cent of CEOs cited the US with Germany second.
In Western Europe (including the UK), around a third of CEOs are ‘very confident’ over revenue growth for the next three years.
“UK businesses are relatively strong in the kind of tradable services that may grow strongly in future decades due to rising demand from the BRICs and other emerging economies – such as creative industries, business and financial services, university education and healthcare/pharmaceuticals. So we should see the rise of these emerging markets as an opportunity to be grasped for UK business rather than a threat,” said PwC chief UK economist John Hawksworth in a statement.