Home / UK economy rides the festive merry-go-round

UK economy rides the festive merry-go-round

By Mark Craddock. Published on 6 January 2015

As 2014 recedes onto the horizon, Mark Craddock reviews the highs and lows of the past year and looks ahead to what 2015 has in store.

Post-recession life during 2014 has been something of a merry-go-round. Many businesses have been doing well, the M&A market has picked up, there have been some high profile IPOs, and expansion plans are finally coming off the drawing board and into the real world.

There’s no doubt the recruitment market has been an exciting place to be over the last 12 months. We’ve seen a gradual return to a more candidate-focused market, and those with the most sought after skills are seeing some very attractive offers as companies look for those who can deliver on growth expectations.

Success stories have included the budget brands such as Poundland, Aldi and Lidl, who are transforming the shape of British retailing with their no frills, more nimble approach to doing business.

Others, such as online gaming giant King, have tapped into the latest trends very successfully while some have been less fortunate, witness some of our best known retailers as they struggle to keep pace on the High Street.

Consumer spending in the run-up to Christmas was reportedly high, but results released in December by the Office for National Statistics showed that in fact, the UK economy had actually grown more slowly during 2014 than previously thought.

It is now only 2.9% higher than the previous pre-recession peak, whereas earlier, the ONS had suggested that the economy was 3.4% up on that peak.

Skills shortages

This less than festive news matched a warning in the CBI/Accenture employment trends survey 2014.

It said that although 50% of British businesses are planning to take on extra workers during 2015, concerns over the UK’s growing skills gap are now seen as the number one workforce threat to the long-term health of its economy.

What does all this mean for recruitment in 2015?

Increased global uncertainty will bring its own pressures, but from talking to clients, the message is largely one of positivity and a brighter future ahead, albeit one that marries confidence with an element of caution.

The fall of the rouble, the continuing weakness of the Eurozone economy and the collapsing oil price – while good for consumers – isn’t so great for the previously booming oil and gas industry.

Add in next May’s general election, with its potential for a vote on Britain coming out of the EU, and this could all have the effect of pushing the pause button on future growth.

On the plus side, the stability and maturity of the UK and US economies means they continue to outperform many of those in the more emerging markets, albeit that in areas such as Africa, the harnessing of natural resources is creating much interest within the mineral sector.

The incessant need for innovation and expansion will create new and exciting opportunities and we’re already seeing clients investing in ERP implementations and upgrades, Shared Service Centres and acquisitions, to ensure they have the capability to react to that potential.

Today’s growth is all about being lean and mean and ready for action – and there will be plenty of reward for those who are brave enough to respond.

Mark Craddock
Partner – Executive Search – Finance


Mark Craddock


Mark leads the executive search CFO & Finance Practice at Eton Bridge Partners. His personal area of focus is handling retained mandates to recruit permanent CFOs and their direct reports across the UK, Europe, and increasingly globally.