29 Jan 2014

Australian firms urged to eye NZ

9:36 am on 29 January 2014

A new report suggests Australian firms should be looking for opportunities in New Zealand, which is set to enjoy one of its most significant periods of growth in recent history.

In its first Trans-Tasman report, software provider MYOB said small and medium-sized enterprises on both sides of the ditch expect improving economic conditions over 2014.

But while Australian SMEs are more optimistic about growth in 2014 than they were in the previous 12 months, it says opportunities are at least six to 12 months behind New Zealand.

MYOB chief executive Tim Reed said the Kiwis were riding a wave of confidence as the Australasian currencies grow closer to parity.

He said the winding down of Australia's mining boom remained a concern but construction investment was on the rise and the falling Australian dollar was helping both exporters and the tourism economy.

"In New Zealand, the effects of the Canterbury rebuild and growth in Auckland, combined with the rural sector's performance, is underpinning what will likely be one of the most significant and sustained periods of growth in the country's recent history," Mr Reed said.

AAP says the report highlights Australia's SMEs underperformance against New Zealand's in 2013.

In the year to August 2013, 39 percent of Australian SME operators reported a fall in revenue while just 18 percent recorded a revenue increase.

In contrast, 30 percent of New Zealand SMEs reported a revenue rise over the same period, while 24 percent saw their revenues decline.

Construction, retail, manufacturing and rural sectors in New Zealand are expected to outpace those in Australia, which is only expected to outpace the Kiwis in finance and insurance.

For SMEs to take full advantage of the opportunities a trans-Tasman trade boom might bring, Mr Reed recommends operators take a new look at their online strategy.

"Our research shows SMEs with both a business website and a social media site were at least 63 percent more likely to see a revenue rise than those who didn't have one of these sites," he said.