Paul Gibbon looks at the importance of SME companies to the Sheffield City Region
SME companies, which are those businesses with less than 250 employees, form one of the most important commercial sectors for the Sheffield City Region (SCR) and make up the largest share of business, contributing more to the regional economy than any other size of enterprise.
Offering more than their purely economic contribution, these companies are some of the UK's most entrepreneurial drivers as they are less constrained than larger organisations and therefore more able to flex and adapt to changing niche demands or emerging markets.
The SCR has a strong mix of SME businesses and these range from service providers such as print and digital design companies, those primarily engaged in the delivery of digital and technological innovations, through to retailers and manufacturers.
The regional economy benefits hugely from this mix of different enterprises, whether that is through shared business via supply-chain initiatives, or that they put so much into the local coffers through taxes, or the fact that their very presence provides employment and subsequent business opportunities.
From our perspective as one of the SCR's longest established law firms, Wake Smith Solicitors has a very broad involvement with the region's SME companies, whether it is an issue of arranging a lease, offering legal advice on a matter of intellectual property rights, mergers or succession planning for a family enterprise, we cover it all.
One of the key points that I want to illustrate regarding SME's is the crucial part that they play in our ever-developing commercial property market. It is safe to say that some of the city's most prestigious developments have benefitted from SME tenancies.
If we look at how this drives property transactions, a large number of deals done on office space and the smaller sized industrial units across the SCR are involving SMEs and are often announcements on relocations for businesses that already have a presence in South Yorkshire.
Our own relocation in 2016 when we took 13,000 sq ft of space at Velocity made headline news within the region and was then one of the largest office deals in the city for some time, yet it was essentially a story about SME growth.
Likewise, we have seen innovative companies such as Puckator, with a turnover of 18 million pounds, re-locating from its Broomhill base into larger premises at Park Hill due to expansion.
And let us not ignore the significant amount of interest in industrial property within the region for those businesses which are entering into the supply chain for our Advanced Manufacturing District.
Local entrepreneurs and SMEs in the retail and leisure sectors also make a sizeable contribution to the uptake of commercial property in Sheffield, both existing stock and the A1, A3 and A4 spaces in new developments. A great example of this is the success of The Street Food Chef, a family owned business, which now has a number of outlets across the city.
So as much as we want to see large businesses taking space in the city and helping to support the SCR as a growing commercial centre, it is clear that the majority of that support is coming from our hard-working SME companies and long may that continue.