Private companies in Canada are playing the long game despite economic uncertainty: PwC study



    TORONTO, Oct. 24 /CNW/ - Despite a downturn in markets and fears of a
worsening economy, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)' Business Insights(R) Survey
2008 shows that most private companies are sticking to their long-term
strategies and taking a measured approached. And while confidence has fallen
sharply and a third of private companies expect business to get "a lot" or "a
little worse", the majority continue to build plans that will offer growth and
expansion even in uncertain times.
    In 2007, 77% of Canada's private companies expected business to get "a
lot" or "a little better" in the next 12 months. In July of this year, the
number had fallen to 68%, and by October, when private companies were
resurveyed to reflect on the current state of the economic crisis, only just
over half the respondents echoed the same confidence.
    "While confidence is down it is by no means out," says Eric Andrew, PwC's
Private Company Services Canadian leader. "Canadian private companies are
dealing with what the market is throwing at them. Unlike US counterparts,
where until recently high consumer spending and resulting growth conditions
south of the border made doing business a smoother ride, Canadian companies
have been more cautious and had to work harder to refine and develop their
businesses. This means when we hit bumps in the road, we tend to be better
capitalized, and better prepared to deal with change."
    But despite all the gloom and doom reported in the world media, for
Canadian private companies at least, for the fourth consecutive year, growth
and expansion is the main strategy - even as late as mid-October - for over
half the respondents. Those that changed their focus have moved to a more
cautious plan for consolidation, but there are no indications yet that the
overall number of Canadian companies in survival mode has increased.
    In July, the data showed exchange rates issues had risen sharply to rank
number one in top challenges and were being cited most prominently in the
East. Forty-seven percent of Ontario respondents and 52% of Quebec respondents
ranked this as the number one challenge. For the third year running the
biggest challenges in British Columbia and Alberta related to the recruitment
of skilled staff and labour shortages, with 66% of Alberta companies ranking
this as the number one challenge for the year ahead. In the last three months
the landscape has changed dramatically. Labour issues have since fallen to
fifth place behind exchange rates, competition, and profitability. Concerns
over the future of the economy is now the number one challenge for private
business owners.
    "The good news is private companies across Canada are well positioned for
future growth and proceeding cautiously with their plans," says Andrew.
"Business leaders should be always thinking long-term, about what they need to
do to build their companies into the next decade, as well as the next quarter.
That's what creates real competitive edge."
    For more information on the Business Insights(R) Survey 2008 please visit
www.pwc.com/ca/businessinsights.

    PricewaterhouseCoopers (www.pwc.com) provides industry-focused assurance,
tax and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its
clients and their stakeholders. More than 154,000 people in 153 countries
across our network share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop
fresh perspectives and practical advice. In Canada, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
(www.pwc.com/ca) and its related entities have more than 5,200 partners and
staff in offices across the country.

    "PricewaterhouseCoopers" refers to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario
limited liability partnership, or, as the context requires, the
PricewaterhouseCoopers global network or other member firms of the network,
each of which is a separate and independent legal entity.





For further information:

For further information: Nina Godard, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, (416)
941-8383 x 13520, nina.godard@ca.pwc.com

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