Businesses eye growth despite lower profit forecasts

85% of consumer business leaders are prioritising growth in 2021, despite greater cost reductions and smaller profits, according to research by Deloitte.

CEO and CFOs of consumer businesses identify priorities for the next 12 months as profitable and sustainable growth (85%), developing existing products and services (70%), and introducing new products and services (52%). This is despite these organisations expecting profits to fall over the same period.

Deloitte’s survey found that cost reduction programmes are also anticipated to ramp up in 2021, mainly due to the pandemic. In the short term, the highest risks to business growth are identified as COVID-19 and the state of the UK economy. Over the next five years, this is superseded by competition from challenger brands and new entrants and disruptive business models. However, the biggest threat to growth over the decade is identified as climate change.

Around 65% of leaders do not see the switch to online as a risk in future, as their response to COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened the online presence of consumer businesses.

Mike Manby, partner and consumer growth leader at Deloitte, said: “The rate of change and disruption is making companies rethink what it means to be a consumer business, not just in the short term but also over the next ten years. Whilst much of the past year has been about survival, consumer business leaders are turning their focus to profit and sustainable growth in the year ahead. This is despite the challenges of pressured profits and significant cost reduction programmes in place. Whilst these ambitions mean leaders face the perennial conundrum of how to do more with less, it also sets out a new blueprint for business.”

He added that while there has been widespread distress, many consumer businesses across the board have also shown immense resilience in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most notable has been the shift to online platforms, with innovative online experiences created for consumers to continuing engaging with their favourite brands.

The survey is based on responses from CEOs and CFOs across 46 consumer businesses from across a number of consumer-facing industries, including automotive, retail, travel and hospitality and consumer products.

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