Bosses bullish about 2013 as they bid to put tough times behind them
The Olympics and Jubilee celebrations meant that work upgrading railways was shunted to a siding in 2012.
That hit Alfreton firm Collis Engineering hard but it is bouncing back in 2013 with innovative new products.
Managing director Peter Roberts said: "We're quite optimistic because this ought to be a good year. Our lightweight signal post is half the price of a traditional one and could save Network Rail a lot of money."
Investment in young people is essential to the future of high-tech manufacturing, according to Jeff Eley, chairman of precision measuring equipment developer Eley Metrology.
He said: "The last 12 months have seen our government make efforts in 'planting seeds' that will lead to 'green shoots' in years to come.
"The colleges, through Government initiatives, are vigorously promoting manufacturing qualifications in a real attempt to pull back from the financial abyss that has been created.
"What two decades have removed will not be replaced overnight.
"However, the natural inventiveness of the British people will once again have a chance to come to the fore and the Government must be bold enough to back the nation in generating real honest wealth."
The Pride Park rail firm, specialising in monitoring equipment for rolling stock, is preparing for an upturn in business.
Business development manager Barry Winchurch said: "The future looks good for us. We have expanded our offices and now employ 16 people, the bulk of whom are design and development engineers.
"Things will be steady over the next 12 months but we think that, come early 2014, we will be very busy with Thameslink and Crossrail projects."
2013 will be the year that mobile applications for businesses hit the mainstream – so thinks Benjamin Benn, director at Raynesway software firm Silver Pride.
He said: "On reviewing how leading companies have invested in their online activities throughout the past year, you will see more and more businesses in Derbyshire will be promoting their services and products through some form of mobile technology.
"A custom-built mobile app allows your business to engage with a much wider audience and can also integrate suppliers and clients with your internal systems."
The mower firm's parent company, Howardson, which also operates grounds maintenance equipment manufacturer Sysis, has just enjoyed its best-ever year.
Managing director Ian Howard said: "We are 9% up on where we were last year and I'm very pleased with what we've achieved.
"We're very positive about the future and are planning to invest £500,000 on manufacturing machinery this year."
The Swadlincote manufacturer of rock-crushing and screening machinery is predicting a slow start to the year.
Managing director Duncan McGregor said: "A tough first quarter is expected but the picture will improve during the rest of year. The domestic market remains OK.
"Northern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Africa, the Americas and Far East will provide growth while South Europe will not recover in 2013. Finance is quite a risk."
Fresh back from a fact-finding mission to China, the Derby jewellery firm is keen to expand.
Co-owner Neil Jordan said: "With the UK jewellery industry still struggling, Flash Jordan and Britton Bespoke will look to build on our visit to China, the internet and other overseas markets.
"The year begins with the launch of a new range of cufflinks at the Jewellery Show at the NEC, a collaboration with Derby-based Subism and several renowned street artists.
"From then on it will all be about marketing, brand building and looking east."
RAIL VEHICLE ENGINEERING LIMITED
The London Road rail engineering firm that specialises in refurbishing rolling stock is bullish about 2013.
A spokesman said: "Our expansion plans include improvements to our premises that will create a significant number of jobs."
The company, alongside its landlord, is applying for cash from the Derby Enterprise Growth Fund to help accelerate growth.
TEAM TELECOM GROUP
The radio telecommunications firm, based in Uttoxeter Old Road, is expecting great things with the launch of the Simoco Xd product, designed and developed in Derby.
Mike Norfield, chief executive officer, said: "We anticipate that the technology will open up new markets for us in Australia, the Americas and Central and Eastern Europe.
"We're also going to continue to invest in core engineering skills in Derby and put more emphasis on integrated communications by bringing together radio, wireless and mobile technologies through the Affini Group.
"Our telecoms support company, Indigo, will also continue to be heavily involved in the 4G roll-out programme for mobile operators."
Mine safety and monitoring equipment firm Davis Derby is predicting a difficult start to the year.
The business is dependent on expanding markets as well as the price of coal, oil and gas.
Managing director Gerry Beetles said: "We have a presence in Russia and Kazakhstan where we are not seeing much investment.
"Mining in the UK continues to diminish and those mines that remain open are closing.
"It's looking like a fairly bleak first quarter which is the only one we can see with any detail but we do have plenty of determination."
Owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, the Hazelwood research and development centre of Lubrizol is developing its links with the Far East.
Director Phil Shore said: "There are plans to keep investing in the site here in Derbyshire and we will be working hard to support the development of the huge plant we are building in China."
2013 will not be a year for the superstitious, the ill-prepared, or the timid, believes Graham Bennett, chairman of Lightspeed Derby, an organisation working to improve the city's internet connectivity.
Mr Bennett said: "It will be the year when Derby's innovators and entrepreneurs start to shine.
"It will be the year when long-made plans will start to reveal themselves and will also be the year when those who are frustrated with current connectivity solutions will start to exploit gaps in the market for their own commercial benefit and for the benefit of Derby's businesses and citizens."
A trio of gongs at the Derbyshire's Best Business Awards was the highlight for engineering firm Greenbank last year.
In 2013, it is hoped that development work on new products for the power generation industry will pay dividends.
Managing director Charles Conroy said: "We have been quoting for a lot of work so sales should pick up in the first quarter and things in China are starting to bubble.
"There will be peaks and troughs so if business goes really well some fabrication work could be subcontracted."
The Derby bearings and pump manufacturer found 2012 tougher than 2011 but is in a good position to grow this year.
General manager Dennis Rawle said: "The UK has been OK but the Eurozone has been difficult.
"We have had our bearings approved for the water industry which is good news and we will concentrate on our pump business because that is more profitable."
The designer and manufacturer of equipment to train engineers will grow in 2013 and is involved in a recruitment drive.
Managing director Simon Woods said: "We are busy with quite a large order book.
"The issue for us is finding the capacity to carry out all of the work in-house. When we reach capacity here then the problem is finding good sub-contractors."
Turnover at vehicle electronics firm Pektron hit a record high of £35m in 2012 and the company ploughed back £5m into machinery and an IT system.
Operations director John Potts said: "The company is still experiencing strong growth and we plan to recruit more people and invest in more machinery.
"This is one of the best-equipped electronics companies in Europe and we have to invest continually to stay at the cutting edge."
EVE OF ST AGNES
The skin-care product manufacturer is hoping to make big strides in 2013.
Owner Emma Heywood said: "Last year was tough but hopefully the worst is over and people will have more confidence to spend so I'm positive.
"The key is to get finance in place so that I can fulfil the potential of my business and start to see some growth."
Delayed decisions on spending have frustrated blast protection engineering firm Aigis in the last year but better results are expected in 2013.
Managing director David Christian said: "Once the holiday period is out of the way, then we might have a flurry of activity because people can't delay decisions for ever."
The company specialises in equipment that protects people from explosions. This year, it has had success with a pear-shaped containment unit used by bomb-disposal personnel, allowing them to carry detonators with minimal risk of injury.
Vehicle accessories designer and manufacturer ASG is facing a lull at the moment but expects trade to accelerate considerably later in the year.
Managing director Bruce Allman said: "There are several new vehicle launches this year so our first quarter will be steady, then business will increase thereafter.
"At the moment we are busy designing and developing new products and planning to invest in new machinery.
"Once people have the cars then they will want sidesteps and other accessories that we produce."
MERIDIAN LIGHTWEIGHT TECHNOLOGIES
The automotive engineering firm is investing millions in a new 60,000sq ft factory in South Normanton where it will produce parts for luxury vehicles.
Operations director Geoff Storr said: "This is a huge year for Meridian. The new factory has been handed over and we are moving the machine shop and expanding our casting facility having invested £8m in plant and equipment."
The pharmaceutical technology company finished 2012 on a high by being named as one of the top ten emerging technology firms by independent investment advice firm Lux Research.
The Chellaston-based firm, listed on the Alternative Investment Market, develops chewable drugs, taste-masking technology and formulations enabling antibiotics to be produced in a dry form for longer storage.
Chief executive officer Nigel Theobald said: "I think the key thing for next year is to keep the momentum going. Bayer are on board for our calcium products, we raised £2m to take projects forward and we have some very good institutions on board."
The company is pitching for a lot of work to supply equipment which both delivers broadband access to rail passengers and monitors train operating systems.
Rail engineering manager Ian Rocliffe said: "We are doing better than a lot of companies and have been busy for the last couple of years.
"That said, though, there is a lot of tendering activity, business is not being converted as quickly as a couple of years ago."
Hopes for 2013 are high at train simulator firm Sydac, based at the Derwent Business Centre.
UK operations manager Stewart Warner said: "There is lots of business out there and we are finalising proposals and waiting for contracts to be signed.
"We could win a large project that could keep us busy throughout the year."
Entrepreneur Rob Hegarty wants to take his BikerBuzz mobile phone application to market.
Combining a biker travel guide with a real-life treasure hunt, Mr Hegarty is hoping that the Derby Enterprise Growth Fund will help him develop the business.
Mr Hegarty said: "Initially I will be developing it to work in the UK but my plan is to roll it out across Europe before developing more exotic locations.
"I'll need a team of programmers to develop the app for Android and iPhone mobiles, moderators to manage posts, office staff and a sales team to promote the business.
"In three years, according to the business plan, I will have at least 10 staff, an office in Derby and a mobile promotions unit attending biker events."
The Derby developer is working on sites in Raynesway and Nottingham Road and is hoping for higher levels of inquiries in the coming year and more incentives for firms to set up operations in the city.
Managing director John Blount said: "I'd like to see the Derby Enterprise Growth Fund used to give manufacturing companies rent-free periods in commercial premises. That would attract investment to Derby."
IAN HODGKINSON BUILDERS
Competitors falling by the wayside has contributed to the success of the Pride Park building firm.
Managing director Ian Hodgkinson said: "This year is going to be very exciting as the order book is looking healthy and the properties we've built have all sold.
"It goes to show that if you keep your head down and give people what they want you'll come through in the end."
In business for just six months, Derby Demolition, based on Pride Park, has already shown a profit.
Director Daniel Walsh said: "There's work out there for demolition companies but there is a lot of competition.
"If 2013 is anything like our first six months then I'll be pleased."
DAVID BROWN COMMERCIAL
Patchy improvement has been seen in the commercial property market in the past few months, according to Derby property agent David Brown.
He said: "Most people I speak to think that the worst is behind us and there is a sense of some sort of revival with some decent transactions in place."
RAYGAR ARCHITECTURAL AND ENGINEERING SUPPLIES
Known as Rae's Tools, selling architectural ironmongery and general kit for tradesmen, the business is slightly up on this time last year. Managing director Ray Garlick said: "I think we're stuck in recession, though we're trying to talk our way out of it.
"It's going to be another tough 12 months but we will be watching the pennies and hoping to take a few people on this year."
The rural sector will continue to outperform the wider economy, according to Edward Marshall, of rural property consultants W K Marshall.
He said: "Farm land values will continue to grow and will still be seen as a safe haven by the investor.
"In Derbyshire, I expect the market will be influenced by limited supply coming available.
"I expect continued growth in farm land rents.
"We hope that clarity will emerge over the revised terms for the common agricultural policy and single farm payment.
"I expect the price of wheat to trade at or close to current levels."
Despite a challenging year, the architectural practice has battled on and retained all 22 of its employees.
Director David Hartland said: "Little change is expected in 2013 as, apart from two long-term industrial clients in Derby, we expect to continue our considerable success with hotel clients based in London and the south-east of the country.
"Essentially, the relatively buoyant economy in the London area has enabled the practice to achieve new commissions and repeat business from existing clients, namely Holiday Inn, Hilton and Tune Hotels."
BOWMER & KIRKLAND
The Heage construction firm completed the Football Association's St George's Park development and has more big projects in the pipeline for 2013.
Chairman John Kirkland said: "Construction is still very challenging but our forward order book is healthy and we are currently working on some exciting projects, including the Derby multi-sports arena and the new Center Parcs Village at Woburn Forest.
"In 2013 we will once again strive to deliver total satisfaction to our clients on time and on budget."
Civil and structural engineering company BSP, based on Pride Park, saw signs of a renaissance in the construction sector last year and is hoping for more growth in 2013.
Managing director David Sumner said: "Certainly the second half of the year saw a resurgence of private housing and, most notably, in the commercial and industrial arenas. I feel there is a sense among clients that things couldn't get any worse so we might as well dust down and start developing and building again.
"This is all helped by the media appearing not to be headlining on a daily basis doom and gloom in the economy."
Having worked at Rolls-Royce's Raynesway site and nearing completion of the first phase of Friar Gate Square, Clegg is maintaining its presence in the Derby.
Business development manager David Knifton said: "We have every reason to be confident about the new year.
"Our current local projects include the Friar Gate Square development in Derby's city centre which is progressing extremely well and will be completed in February.
"We have two further projects we are working on for Derby City Council, an extension and refurbishment scheme at Littleover Community School and a new library at Chaddesden.
"Both are also on schedule and progressing well."
The expectation at the housing developer is that prices will remain stable in 2013 though there will be more activity following a few stagnant years.
Joint managing director Tom Finnegan said: "We hope to see a continued improvement in the availability of affordable mortgage finance which remains a fundamental factor in ensuring controlled market growth.
"At Radleigh, we will be continuing our planned programme to open up new quality housing developments across Derbyshire and the East Midlands and hope that our activity will also provide much-needed growth and job creation for the city."
Developing well-located warehouse and industrial space is key to the strategy at the Brailsford-based property firm.
James Richards, investment and development surveyor, said: "We have, throughout 2012, had a good level of interest particularly from occupiers in the automotive industry and can see no reason why this won't continue.
"With the amount of good-quality second-hand space having been taken up, more design-and-build projects are being explored as the only way to fulfil these requirements.
"While speculative development is still some way off we are hopeful that we will continue to deliver new commercial space on our distribution parks in 2013."
More housebuilding is on the cards, according to Andy Leask, managing director at civil and structural engineers Rodgers Leask, based in Derby.
He said: "We expect to see more activity with housebuilders in 2013, many of the older sites have been built out and new sites are back on the agenda.
"Fewer speculative schemes in the commercial sector, because of the difficult market conditions, is good news as we can focus on the developments which are going to move forward to construction.
"In 2013 we will continue to seek out and exploit niche areas which complement our core business."
JUSTIN SMITH ARCHITECTS
The numbers are adding up to optimism for the practice, based at the Friar Gate Studios.
Mr Smith said: "As a small business, we are not exposed as widely to some macro-economic factors, such as reduction in hospital or school building programmes.
"Mortgage lending and a stagnant property market has been a major issue over the last few years but our inquiries and committed work indicate this has subsided."
The firm doubled staff numbers and increased turnover by 33% in 2012 and predicts more of the same.
The commercial property developer has made headway in 2012 and expects to grind out more deals this year.
Director Mike Wrigley said: "Rents should go up because there is a shortage of properties in sought-after areas.
"We have bought new sites and brought other sites back to the market so we have got the stock.
"The problem will be the banks because they are not making finance available."
Belper housebuilder Peveril Homes has seen a significant increase in sales compared to the previous year and predicts continued growth.
Construction and technical director Colin Wright said: "Like every other industry, it's a tough marketplace in which to operate but September and October were our best-performing months for two years with reservations hitting an all-time high.
"Furthermore, we are witnessing increased visitor levels and there is a genuine need for new homes among local people who actively want to buy. We're finding that those in the market for moving definitely have greater confidence and, in fact, there is now pent-up demand for new properties.
"The fundamental problem – past, present and to a certain degree, future – is mortgage availability, especially for first-time buyers who find it almost impossible to find a deposit, unless they tap into the bank of mum and dad."
Until the Government stimulates the construction sector, the housing market will remain depressed, according to Derwent Living chief executive Peter McCormack.
He said: "After four years of economic decline I desperately want to be confident about 2013 but generally in the world of housing there is little cheer.
"For residents who rely on benefits to cover their rent payments the next few years will see real reductions in eligibility.
"My wish for next year is for real Government action to stimulate construction to create jobs and get growth.
"Until that happens we'll remain in the doldrums."
CITY PROPERTIES DERBY
The serviced office specialist has just invested £250,000 in the St Peter's Quarter, buying the Town House, opposite its head office in Green Lane.
It plans to start marketing refurbished office space early this year.
Director Nicky Collett said: "We are looking forward to actively marketing the offices. Occupancy levels are high in our existing properties and we have already had a great deal of interest from small and medium-sized businesses who are looking for city centre office accommodation on flexible leases."
The Ashover firm's boss expects more industry casualties in the coming 12 months.
Managing director Tim Walker said: "Although Wildgoose is going into 2013 with a healthy bank balance and a strong order book and the prospect of securing a number of significant orders in the first quarter, the overall picture for the construction industry as a whole may not be quite as rosy.
"With the construction industry being hit hard by the recession, I would expect more high-profile and familiar names to fall by the wayside before the year is over."
Ilkeston housebuilder Fairgrove Homes reports that it is building almost as many homes as it was in 2007.
Managing director Steve Midgley said: "We have just exchanged contracts on two new sites for four and nine homes respectively.
"Things are moving and we've reason to believe that will continue."
Firms that have made tough but essential decisions over that last five years will be rewarded this year, according to chartered surveyor Marc Ballard.
He said: "The national figures for gross domestic product do not reflect local trends and Derby is doing it better.
"Those businesses which have developed robust and resilient business models since the dawn of the recession, particularly in the niche sectors, are growing and steel frames on new business parks in the heart of Derby are proof that this is happening."
After a slow start, 2012 ended well for Iron Gate commercial property agent BB&J.
Chris Wright said: "Throughout the year we've seen better take-up of stock that had been difficult to move and there's been an increase in the value of transactions across the board.
"We're looking forward to 2013 and there's a better feeling about the market than last year."
The owner of The College Business Centre, in Uttoxeter Road, predicts that serviced offices will increase in popularity this year.
Director Stephen Pinchbeck said: "Serviced offices continue to grow in popularity thanks to their flexibility.
"We expect 2013 to follow a similar pattern, with businesses continuing to keep a tight control on costs."
FRIAR GATE STUDIOS AND KINGS CHAMBERS
Serviced offices are revolutionising the city centre, according to Ann Bhatti, who manages Friar Gate Studios and Kings Chambers.
She said: "Business centres and serviced offices offer much more than just low rents and flexible terms – they provide businesses with a safety net of support and guidance through the crucial periods of a business's life cycle – and can greatly improve a business's chance of survival.
"This spirit of collaboration and innovation has been the key to our continued success."
RIGBY & CO
The commercial property consultancy saw an increase in confidence during the last quarter of 2012.
Director Russell Rigby said: "These were very small steps but welcome nonetheless.
"Further planned investment in physical and IT infrastructure projects will help those high-technology and progressive businesses grow in 2013. This will help to reinforce Derby's distinctive image as a can-do city, when compared with other UK centres.
"On a day-to-day level, rising living and utility costs will continue to blunt many small businesses, which will view 2013 as marginally better than 2012.
"Realistically, it will be 2014 before businesses can plan more confidently for real growth."
SOWTER AND BROWN
Estate agent Chris Brown believes that the state of the housing market will result in higher rents.
Mr Brown said: "I would predict an increase in rents over the next 12 months of between five and 10%, a small increase in property prices of up to 2.5% and interest rates could potentially rise too."
Accountancy firm Sibbalds, in Ashbourne Road, has had its best-ever year and recruited four new members of staff.
Chartered accountant David Bowler said: "In 2013 I think we'll grow by between 10% and 15%.
"We have new services launching and can see more deal activity taking place, although the wider economy will stay stagnant."
2012 proved to be busier than expected for the Derby law firm. It took on more than two dozen people, mainly in employment, debt and licensing. The firm also experienced marginal increases in conveyancing and commercial property.
Managing partner Ken Dixon said: "This is a trend which we expect to gradually improve over the new year albeit through growing our market share rather than increased activity.
"We would expect any improvement this year to arise from our own hard work and innovation rather than any general improvement in market conditions, as things look like remaining tough."
Sales staff at the Derby cleaning business hit their targets for 2012 so this year the company's focus will move to ensuring customer satisfaction.
Director Martin Booth said: "We're hoping to reinvent the client experience and make our competitors sweat.
"We are investing in mobile technology to keep clients informed of our performance and we think that this year will be better than the last."
The law firm has survived by being a full-service practice so that when one department sees a dip, another will prosper.
Partner Russell Davies said: "It has been a difficult trading period for a lot of businesses and solicitors are no different.
"Clients are looking for value for money and businesses are looking to drive down costs so the commercial side of the business has been a challenge whereas crime doesn't tend to be affected by the recession, though things will continue to be difficult in 2013."
Growing awareness of alternative sources of funding is good news for Friar Gate finance specialist Howard Thomas.
He said: "There are some amazingly slick funding platforms out there and when the banks do start lending again they will face some serious competition.
"We are winning a lot of battles and there is money there to be borrowed if you know where to look."
MAX CONFLICT MANAGEMENT
Having started 2012 in an optimistic mood, Max Conflict Management had a rough time of it.
Owner Mark Wingfield said: "A lot of the work that we had been doing with schools and colleges disappeared which made things tough.
"However, there has been success in securing conflict management work with the Football Association for its referees, with welfare officers working with kids and on anti-gang initiatives locally."
BH PR AND COMMUNICATIONS
Spurred on by the success of clients at local and national business awards, the Pride Park PR firm goes into 2013 with a bigger pipeline of work than this time last year.
Director Donna Hill said: "We have high hopes that business confidence will finally translate into increased marketing spend for all of Derby's PR and marketing companies.
"There were a couple of periods in 2012 when it really looked like business confidence was returning and both existing and new clients were finally prepared to invest in long-term PR and marketing campaigns – only for other clients to hit problems and reduce their spend, leaving us treading water again."
OVISO FINANCIAL SERVICES
After record growth in 2011, the Queen Street firm continued to grow in 2012 despite challenges in the sector.
Director Sarah Fullaway said: "Despite the recent EU gender ruling and changes around the taxation of life insurance companies, we have continued to follow our ambitious business plan.
"Our expansion plans are set to continue into 2013 with a number of exciting new developments planned."
There will be little significant change in the national economic picture, according to director John Forkin.
He said: "It is in that context that Derby will continue to develop investment momentum.
"Seeing the first company move into Friar Gate Square will hopefully see one or two of the other office schemes kick-started.
"The velodrome being built and plans for the Olympic swimming pool will also bring confidence in the city."
THE ALTERNATIVE BOARD
2013 will be a positive year for those who take their business by the scruff of the neck.
So says Julian Smith, business mentor at The Alternative Board, in Derby.
He said: "For people who are prepared to take positive steps, the rewards will be there.
"People should stop worrying about macro-economics and focus on building their own businesses."
The phone keeps ringing at the procurement and project management company.
Managing director John Barke said: "There is a very good chance of us taking on more people. Companies are interested in our services and implementing data security systems and standards is likely to be a growth area."
FRANKLANDS INSURANCE AND RISK MANAGEMENT
Increases in personal injury and weather-related claims and static premiums mean that insurers' costs are exceeding income.
Managing director Paul Brown said: "Reserves are being used to maintain solvency levels. As a result, insurers are looking closely at their wordings when presented with a claim.
"More than ever before our message to prospective customers remains that you should engage with a chartered insurance broker with experienced and qualified staff who establish a thorough technical understanding of your requirements."
Investing in training will result in improved customer service that will make businesses more profitable, according to Marylou Booth, of Matlock-based Training Works.
She said: "This is because customers lead increasingly stressful lifestyles and want buying for business and leisure to be an enjoyable, easy process.
"If they have a good experience from well-trained staff, they will go back and make recommendations. If not, they won't."
Growing adoption of cloud technologies and increased use of mobile devices will dominate the IT industry in the coming year.
Mike Donoghue, joint managing director of Derby IT firm Economit, said: "This will continue to affect sales of traditional PCs and servers worldwide.
"Businesses should look towards investing in low-cost, easy-to-implement cloud technologies to replace aged on-premises based equipment.
"Next year will see a big focus on streamlining business processes handled in the cloud and there will be new and innovative solutions entering the cloud-based software market for this."
ELLIS-FERMOR AND NEGUS
More acquisitions will occur across a range of sectors, believes Simon Hale, director at Belper law firm Ellis-Fermor and Negus.
He said: "We expect that 2013 will see consolidation across a range of business sectors as the credit squeeze continues to affect all but the most cash-rich of businesses and entrepreneurs.
"The scale of change the legal profession is facing in 2013 is daunting.
"The withdrawal of Legal Aid from most aspects of divorce and family work will have serious consequences, especially for women and children, and law firms will need to adapt to provide an affordable service to vulnerable members of society."
With new developments such as the velodrome taking shape in the city, accountancy and business advisory firm HSKS Greenhalgh is optimistic about 2013.
Managing director Kultaran Singh said: "Derby is in the public eye and with the fantastic work that the city is doing to attract new investment, together with the confidence that our clients are starting to feel, we hope that 2013 will be the springboard for an improvement in fortunes and look forward to working to maximise opportunities that may arise."
EAST MIDLANDS BUSINESS SERVICES
The staffing solutions firm expects to see growth in engineering and technology sectors and further contraction on the high street as online retail grows.
Director Simon Bucknell said: "We are already seeing more confidence in our clients as they plan to recruit new people in the first half of 2013 so we feel much more optimistic than this time last year."
The entrepreneur and owner of the Oberoi business hub on Pride Park believes that a lack of employment opportunities will result in more business start-ups this year.
Mrs Oberoi said: "What we need to do now is to ensure the environment is ready and able to provide the support, resources and funding that start-ups require.
"I will be focusing on working with new businesses and business in different cycles of their growth as this is where real growth that will impact the economy will come from.
"A change in mindset is also required if we are to succeed; history shows that driven entrepreneurs can succeed whatever the economic environment."
The organiser of the Derby Property and Business Investment Show feels that economic reality, masked by the euphoria of the Jubilee and the Olympics, will sink in this year.
Mr Freeman said: "The world economy continues to look challenging, gross domestic product and inflation targets are unlikely to be met through 2013 and just the hint that we could exit the EU will put a question mark over potential new Asian investors looking for a foothold in the European market by setting up their business in the UK.
"This is scary but, let's face it, nothing worse than we are already used to dealing with and we can, with optimism and positive mental attitude.
"My advice is to dig in for a tough quarter, look for improvement from the Budget and expect to see a spark of hope by the time of the Derby Property Show on May 15."
A growing army of zombie firms are creating a drag on the economy, according to Paul Finnity, office managing partner at RSM Tenon in Derby.
He said: "Insolvencies are at their lowest rate in five years but this doesn't necessarily mean all is going well.
"We're seeing an increasing number of zombie companies, underperforming firms who are taking a share of the market which should really be had by businesses in better form.
"Low interest rates and a soft approach by HMRC are allowing these firms to survive when they wouldn't have done in the 90s recession. On a positive note, the incidence of insolvency in Derby is lower than its East Midlands neighbours."
UK TRADE & INVESTMENT
Export markets will continue to represent a growth opportunity for firms this year, according to Peter Hogarth, regional director at UKTI.
He said: "Asia will carry on growing for local firms following record sales this year.
"China is a key player but Singapore is now our third biggest export partner.
"The EU will remain a vital market with plenty of post-Olympic opportunities to promote brand Britain in Brazil and Russia, who will be looking to benefit from UK expertise as they plan their own major sporting events.
"Watch out for new opportunities in Libya, Egypt and Commonwealth countries as well."
Entrepreneur Conway Standing, who operates the commercial energy tariff comparison website, believes that employees need to dig deep to get the economy out of a hole.
He said: "2012 has been a terrible year for a lot of companies and their staff.
"While companies should value their staff in these times, it is an often overlooked fact that employees can help their companies by going the extra mile.
"A few hours of unpaid overtime, thinking of innovative and helpful ideas and going that extra mile will benefit both parties and maybe the next year will be far better for all."
Creating growth is the key challenge for firms this year, says David Williams, chairman of law firm Geldards.
He said: "Progress in a static market can only come from increasing market share so professional services have to focus, more than ever, on service, quality and value. It is a source of some frustration that so much professional services work "leaks" away from Derby.
"In the same way that Westfield has helped put Derby on the shopping map and has attracted shoppers back to the city, we will be calling upon colleagues in other law firms to join with us in a campaign to promote Derby as a centre of excellence for legal services.
"Everything a business needs is here in Derby and we need to get that message across."
Olympic inspiration can spur businesses to greater heights in 2013, according to Martin Rodgers, of Derby business development firm Success Academy.
He said: "What we know from the Team GB's success is that with the right training and coaching great things can be achieved.
"For businesses to succeed in 2013 they will need to invest in their most expensive and complex resource, their people.
"By developing our teams we will unlock the potential of our workforces through powerful people engagement."
An increase in commercial activity at the back end of 2012 should continue into the first quarter of this year, says Michelle Craven, commerce and technology director at Nelsons.
She said: "A number of our clients in Derby are keen to progress with business now and to kick-start projects that may have been on the back burner, which is encouraging.
"Additionally, we have been working on innovative projects that are now ready to be launched and commercialised, therefore 2013 has much activity already scheduled in.
"There are lots of opportunities for SME funding and assistance in Derby and the surrounding area which I'm hopeful will encourage businesses to grow in the new year."
This year is likely to be a busy one for the angel investment broker, which has its Midlands base in Friar Gate.
Midlands regional director Russell Copley said: "We will see an increase in the number of new businesses being started with many of these looking for growth funding.
"The recent launch of the Derby Enterprise Growth Fund means that many more businesses will get access to public funding and support and this will improve their prospects of getting equity investment at the same time.
"This increase in confidence will also be reflected in the investor market with a growing appetite in investing in dynamic, innovative businesses with growth potential."
The stress associated with continued economic pain is likely to result in increased demand for anger management services.
Julian Hall, of Beating Anger, said: "With public services spending cuts and inflation both taking effect anything we provide needs to be carefully targeted and effective. Emerging markets are aggression directed at call centres, getting ex-offenders into work and supporting parents with angry and aggressive children – all of which we deliver on.
"Adapting to the needs of the market is vital to survival and growth and we expect our most popular course to be the one-day stress and self-esteem course we developed this year."
An improvement in the state of the economy this year is being predicted by Melvin Shapcott.
He said: "After the most challenging year of the recession so far, I predict we will see some improvements in the economy in 2013. This optimism is based on an increasing number of clients receiving more inquiries and starting to get busy again within the local economy, reports that unemployment locally has fallen four months in a row and Derby continuing to attract new business.
"The hope is these early signs of improvement carry forward into the wider economy this year.
"With base rate expected to remain at half of one per cent and inflation staying low, I am optimistic that 2013 will be the turning point in the recession."
Plan for the worst and hope for the best is the advice coming from Tyrone Courtman, head of restructuring at accountancy firm Cooper Parry.
He said: "I still remain to be convinced that we have yet to see the worst of the crisis which began in 2008.
"The Coalition remains committed to reducing the country's debt burden, and rightly so, but it will involve more of the same, only worse. There are no quick fixes.
"I do not think distressed businesses, of which there are many, will be able to defy gravity for ever so I do foresee a rise in restructuring as both businesses and the major financial institutions look to reposition their business models on to a more sustainable footing.
"Those changes will be painful for all and there will be casualties. Make sure you're not one of them."
ESSENTIAL PRINT SERVICES (DERBY)
The Pride Park company has moved into a larger office and taken on more staff.
Print consultant Laura Etheridge said: "The year ahead sees more exciting expansion plans for Essential Print Services.
"Despite the digital revolution, paper as a medium is continuing to be an effective and sought-after call to action.
"Royal Mail and PPA, respectively, state that 48% of UK adults have done something in the last 12 months as a result of a printed piece of direct mail, with 23% of consumers purchasing a product after being exposed to magazine print advertising.
"We are pleased and encouraged by these figures and look forward to a fantastic 2013."
Mandie Stravino, chief executive of Derby College, said: "Vital this year will be working with businesses to ensure that a rise in business confidence and investment translates into job creation, particularly for young people through apprenticeships or finishing their school, college or university education.
"We are seeing growing confidence among businesses who are also recognising that they need to invest in their workforce of the future to remain competitive.
"We are therefore meeting the challenge to ensure that we have the right vocational programmes and work-based training in place to give young people the right skills for the jobs that are available."
The accountancy and business advisory firm is upping its presence in the city this year with a move to St Helen's House, due to take place in April.
A spokesman said: "We have a number of younger members in the firm and this year we aim to build succession into the business while continuing to provide innovative solutions to our clients' challenges.
"We will also be working on raising the profile of the firm among active owner-managed businesses in the region and working on ways to gain market share while continuing to do all we can to contribute to Derby's success and attractiveness to new businesses."
The Olympics, Paralympics, the Jubilee and good news in the media helped business take a turn for the better in summer 2012, believes solicitor Martin Jinks.
He said: "The mood appears to be continuing into the new year.
"Properties are being built and taken again. Deals are being done.
"Derby appears to be faring particularly well with the growth of its strength as a leading high-tech city.
"Provided calamitous world events can be avoided, I predict cautious continuing improvement for the local economy in 2013."
ST PETER'S QUARTER
Made up largely of retailers, businesses in the St Peter's Quarter are at the mercy of economic factors that affect consumer confidence and spending.
Stephen Jeffery, chairman of the St Peter's Quarter Board, said: "Changes that affect people's household budgets such as fuel prices, mortgage rates and job security will have a huge impact on the majority of the businesses in the St Peter's Quarter.
"As a Business Improvement District, our efforts to promote this area and work with key partners to improve the experience for visitors will be more important than ever to ensure that we attract more people to this core part of the city centre."
Cautious optimism is the order of the day for the Cathedral Quarter.
Martin Langsdale, chairman of the Cathedral Quarter management group, said: "The Cathedral Quarter has seen an increase in numbers of businesses coming into the area and is recognised as a destination in its own right.
"Our emphasis will be to continue to raise the profile of businesses in the Cathedral Quarter locally, regionally and nationally and work with partners to influence the factors that affect all of our businesses in this iconic area of the city centre."
Prospects for 2013 mirror those of 2012, according to Mike Armitage, managing director of Derby commercial cleaning company Clean Slate.
Mr Armitage said: "The UK economy will continue to bump along the bottom.
"However, the good news is that Derby punches above its weight in attracting good new businesses to the area.
"For a regional service company such as Clean Slate, this means that new opportunities still arise.
"Many firms have taken the economic situation as a challenge to increase competitiveness and these companies are well placed to capitalise on the opportunities that do occur."
Having settled into a new studio at Darley Abbey Mills and just completed the firm's end-of-year accounts, director Wendy Lee is confident about 2013.
She said: "It's going to be a good year.
"We've taken on our first full-time employee.
"The big expenditure on the studio is behind us so we can concentrate on building the business this year."
IDENTIFY SOCIAL BUSINESS CONSULTING
Fear of failure will be brushed aside by young entrepreneurs who will change the UK economic landscape, according to Kevin Hudson, of Identify Social Business Consulting.
He said: "Students and young entrepreneurs will realise they are smarter, braver and better connected than the majority of their elders.
"Add this to the natural enthusiasm and willingness to adapt of the young and you have a force that can be a really positive disruption. Change is the only constant opportunity – embrace it."
Marketing professional Roger Moggs believes there will be little change in 2013.
He said: "Marketing budgets are a good barometer of how businesses feel. From the point of view of business inquiries, we've never been busier but we have got to start converting them."
KEVIN PALMER MEDIA SERVICES
The Spondon media professional experienced a slight growth in press and public relations activity in the last three months compared to the same period in 2011.
Mr Palmer said: "As well as new clients, this work has been created by firms who may not have done much press and PR activity for a while but who have diversified or revived themselves after recent rough times.
"They want to get across the vital message to their customers, their stakeholders, their competitors and the public that they are around and ready to do business."
BLACK APRICOT CREATIVE
The design studio moved into Friar Gate Studios last year and took on marketing and commercial manager Richard Pettinger.
This allowed directors Claudio Davanzo and Sach Palmer to concentrate on creative work.
Mr Davanzo said: "It was difficult for me and Sach balancing winning new business with delivering projects for customers so Richard has been a real asset."
Mr Palmer said: "2013 is a massive year for us. We have just landed four new projects starting this year."
Winning new business will be tricky because of people's perception of the economy though the public- relations sector may benefit from more attention to marketing budgets.
So believes Duffield public relations consultant Phil Stubbs.
He said: "Although marketing budgets still tend to fall below pre-recession levels, businesses are typically reducing their advertising spend before considering cuts to public relations.
"With the growth of ever-cheaper ways to communicate well-targeted messages, such as through social networks, organisations appear to understand the value of PR more and more, and many are choosing to invest, often at the expense of some other areas of marketing.
"The net result may actually create a positive growth curve for the PR sector."
STUART WOOD PHOTOGRAPHY
Diversification has proved successful for photographer Stuart Wood, whose bread and butter has been celebrity portraits.
Mr Wood said: "The high-end weddings business is starting to pay dividends and this year I'll be doing some teaching for the Royal Photographic Society.
"You have to ignore what's happening in the wider economy, stop whining and get on with it because life goes on."
Having been named entrepreneur of the year at Derbyshire's Best Business Awards last year, managing director Matt Wheatcroft is looking to build awareness of the firm's services.
Purpose Media, based in South Normanton, specialises in e-commerce websites for wholesalers and manufacturers that operate effectively across different territories and in different languages.
Mr Wheatcroft said: "The UK is one of the fastest-growing online economies and by 2016, £216 billion will be spent online here. We have raised our profile locally and are attracting the right level of customer so we're expecting further growth this year."
2012 saw the Darley Abbey design firm cement a relationship with Saga, work on high-profile campaigns for the University of Derby, the city council and on projects for clients in France, Holland, Switzerland and South Africa.
Managing director Phil Harvey said: "As budgets get more and more strained, great ideas that deliver real results will become even more important.
"So we'll be standing by our unerring focus on creativity and will be determined to ensure that our standards of service never slip.
"That approach has served us well and we think it's a solid foundation on which we can continue our growth."
SQUARE IN THE AIR
There is always money to be made when a good idea is properly marketed, says Robin Hutchison, new business director at Square In The Air, a specialist PR and marketing firm for the sports, betting and gaming industries.
He said: "Periods of recession have usually put the cat among the pigeons and forced people to start up new businesses but the elongated downturn appears to have held people back in recent times.
"Whether their hand is forced or they have a good idea, I'm hopeful people will have the courage of their convictions to strike out in 2013.
"With the right idea, sensible targets and decent marketing behind them there is still money to be made out there."
Companies with a digital presence will be looking carefully at the significance of mobile and tablet devices.
Adam Civval, digital director of Greendogmedia, said: "This new format is bringing many new considerations into digital projects and businesses will be considering how to best engage these visitors with their brand.
"As more potential customers search, communicate and make purchasing decisions through mobile devices, this will become the natural channel for businesses to convert these users.
"We see mobile responsive technology being the key for companies to optimise their position online for 2013."
A highlight for the Queen Street public relations firm was working with a client connected with the Olympic Games and seeing turnover exceed expectations in 2012.
Joint owner Simon Burch said: "Well targeted and imaginative PR campaigns are still one of the best ways to raise a business's profile and public-relations companies that can offer creativity without compromising their client's message will prosper in 2013.
"That belief, plus one or two exciting projects we have in the pipeline and plans to grow the business further, means that we can't wait for 2013 to get started."
The company, now based at Friar Gate Studios, has won new clients and enters 2013 with optimism.
Managing director Graham Paskett said: "Public relations is an effective barometer of business confidence. We start the new year with substantial new gardening clients. Many are international groups.
"A significant number of economists believe the US will not fall off the fiscal cliff and their economy will strengthen next year which augurs well for Paskett.
"UK unemployment is falling, interest rates remain cheap and if we can kick-start the banks into sensible lending it will generate more confidence to ensure a stronger 2013."
More competition for work is anticipated by Chris Redshaw, boss at design firm Revolver Revolver.
He said: "There's still plenty of work in Derby but we're working further afield than ever before and it's difficult to say how 2013 will pan out."
The restaurant won the customer excellence award at the 2012 Derbyshire's Best Business Awards and aims to build on its reputation and keep evolving.
Owner Naveed Khaliq said: "We place our customers at the heart of everything we do and work hard to stay ahead of our competitors with continued investment in the Anoki experience.
"This means continually reinventing ourselves, whether through our décor, menus or table arrangements."
With East Midlands Airport adding new destinations and boasting high passenger numbers, the hotel had to take on 25 people during 2012.
General manager Daniel Keane said: "This is our second full year of operations, we're looking forward to a very good year and it looks like we'll be needing more staff."
The hotel launched in October 2011 with 75 staff.
MICHAEL FRITH AT BENNETTS BRASSERIE
Chef Mike Frith launched his own eaterie in 2012 and its success has prompted expansion plans for 2013. Mr Frith said: "The brasserie is going from strength to strength and has surpassed my expectations for the first year.
"I'm still interested in opening a restaurant in the evening and that's my hope for this year."
Director Raj Gohil is not expecting miracles for 2013.
He said: "We finished up 3% year on year which wasn't a bad return and I'd be happy if we equalled that this year.
"It is interesting the way the market for frames is changing as the recession hits premium brands.
"Now they would rather sell 10 pairs for £125 each than one pair for £300."
The Derbyshire white goods specialist anticipates strong double-digit growth this year.
Nick Glynne, managing director, said: "At our South Normanton showroom we are expecting turnover to increase by at least 30% and we plan to take on at least another ten staff members.
"Many of our competitors, such as independent retailers and high-street brands like Comet, have not been able to offer what we can, which has been telling.
"Our company has an extremely strong online presence too which continues to grow, so all in all we are confident of a bumper year."
BALLOON AND PARTY IDEAS
April is the start of the 20th year in business for the Derwent Street retailer.
It started to feel the pinch of internet competition during 2011 and so upped its online game in 2012 and introduced a 360-degree virtual tour of the shop for its website.
Diana Rose said: "This way we are taking our store into our customers' front room, home or office.
"If the internet is taking some of our customers away, we will use the internet to go to our customers."
BAR NUMBER FIVE
It has been a good year for Bar Number Five and owner Stephen Rouse has also opened Bar Marrakech, in Friar Gate.
He said: "It's looking quite good, we've got a busy year for Bar Number Five with functions booked up until next Christmas and we'll start doing food at Bar Marrakech in January.
"It's hard work but if you put the hours in you get the rewards."
While the city's department store expects business to remain steady, it has distinctive hopes for the Cathedral Quarter.
Managing director Simon Ingham said: "We'd like to see more businesses opening up in the Cathedral Quarter, which is finding its feet."
Mr Ingham is also involved in a scheme to convert a storage area by Bennetts' car park into a hub for cyclists.
The hotel and golf course celebrated its 21st birthday last year.
Director Andrew Allsop said: "We owe our success to our commitment to continuous improvement.
"We remain dedicated to supporting local suppliers and will continue to work hard to exceed the expectations of families, couples, large parties and business customers who travel from all over the Midlands to enjoy our atmosphere."
The windows, doors and conservatory company celebrated its 40th year in business last year, no mean feat in the double-glazing industry.
Director Glen Batchelor said: "I expect this year to be similar to 2011 and 2012.
"People have bills that take priority over buying new windows and doors although, when they do spend on double glazing, they are being more careful about who they use and want to avoid taking risks which is good news for us."
Formerly Chris Variava Mitsubishi, in London Road, Brian Holt Cars is now in local hands.
Owner Brian Holt said: "This year we can build up rather than shrink.
"Positive things are happening at Mitsubishi with new products and I'm hopeful that things will be slightly easier this year."
Despite suffering from a heart attack last year, managing director Tony Spacey did not miss a day of work.
Rather than sit at home, he is happier sitting in the office, overseeing honey producer Littleover Apiaries and fly-fishing equipment business the Game Angling Consultancy.
Mr Spacey said: "The honey business is profitable and the fly-fishing business is doing better than expected.
"I think that for other fly-fishing businesses 2013 will be tough and companies that are less well funded than us may go under."
The Derby café, restaurant and catering operation enterprise has expansion plans in place for this year.
Director Paul Hurst said: "I think we will see exciting things happening in Derby that will give us all a lift."
ASHLEY'S CLOTHING MAINTENANCE
Concern over footfall in the Cathedral Quarter is an issue for the dry cleaning and clothing maintenance company, based in The Wardwick.
Director Ashley Buckley said: "We are very disappointed about the Post Office moving because that will affect footfall in The Strand and the Cathedral Quarter in general which is a great shame.
"In general, I think we're in for more of the same. VAT has got to stop where it is."
JOHN BOWLER EGGS and BOWLER ENERGY
When Hilton entrepreneur John Bowler saw a slowing of his free-range egg business, he diversified into wind energy.
Mr Bowler said: "That has allowed us avoid making any employees redundant.
"The wind turbines are a great investment are still lucrative, giving businesses double-digit returns so I'm quite confident for 2013.
"That said, for businesses in general, there is little incentive to go forward as there's no point investing more money to earn more money only to pay more tax."
The meat wholesaler's sausages went down a storm in 2012 but the industry is facing familiar challenges.
Managing director Richard Taylor said: "We deliver high-quality products but people are price-conscious so things are still going to be tough.
"The cost of protein is a worry because last year's weather has played havoc with cereal crops so the price of feed will increase.
"I'm hoping that 2013 will see typical seasonal weather so there's a decent harvest."
DOLLS HOUSE EMPORIUM
2013 is likely to be tough for smaller businesses, according to the boss of the Ripley dolls house and miniatures supplier.
Managing director Jackie Lee said: "It will be increasingly difficult for smaller businesses to acquire new customers as traditional, proactive methods to educate and inform, such as advertising in print, become less effective and reactive methods, such as search engine optimisation and pay-per-click advertising, fail to produce the required results.
"Confidence in the banks and large corporations, such as the energy and drug companies, will decline as more unethical practices are exposed.
"More holistic and ethical ways of working and living will start to emerge.
"We have not yet had the full effect of government cuts which will reduce consumer spending further."
GEOFF COX MOTORHOMES
Sales of caravans and motorhomes are buoyant so the Denby dealership is optimistic for 2013, though the recovery is fragile.
Managing director Neil Cox said: "Our customers' attitudes are changing.
"After a life spent working and saving, it is more apparent that our target audience is looking beyond austerity measures with people looking more towards enjoying either their retirement or extended holidays.
"However, we have to remain cautious as this may only be a short-cycle recovery.
"Our own market dynamics may change due to increases in environmental influences like rising energy costs and environmental regulation, such as low-emission zones."
THE SECRET DINING COMPANY
Having sold fashion retailer Scenario, Derby entrepreneur Martin Roper went back to his roots by taking over the kitchen at the Exeter Arms.
He said: "I was born in a pub so it felt very natural to me. I'm optimistic about the year ahead and since taking on the kitchen six months ago I've not looked back.
"Pubs have been closing at a rate of 30 a month so we know that we have to be a little bit different and work hard to succeed."
The brewer's flagship Pedigree beer, produced in Burton, has enjoyed growth and is looking for increased market share as sponsor of the England cricket team in an Ashes year.
Peter Dalzell, managing director of Marston's Inns and Taverns, said: "The economy is likely to remain weak for the foreseeable future and we expect our customers to continue to seek good value and but we have a clear, proven plan to keep doing this and it is achieving growth for the business."
The Castle Donington-based firm, which turns over more than $500m per annum, is looking forward to another busy year.
Company founder and chief operating officer Stephen Dawkins said: "It has been a tough year but we continue to expand and have opened offices in Johannesburg, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Estonia, Georgia, LA, Seattle and Mexico City.
"Airlines continue to look to reduce costs which brings opportunities for us and our employees have really knuckled down and worked hard."