Finances chiefs brace for slow recovery as factories plan to slash jobs

Firms do not expect brisk bounce back in business while manufacturers plan redundancies

Finance chiefs are bracing for a “long haul back” to pre-virus levels of business as the country’s biggest firms plan to slash investment and hiring. 

Half of companies do not expect activity to recover to levels seen before the pandemic until at least the second half of 2021 as most move to shore up their finances, Deloitte’s quarterly survey of chief financial officers found. 

While sentiment improved marginally from the first quarter, the majority are bracing for a slump in revenue and a drop in spending as hopes of a rapid V-shaped recovery fade. 

Around nine in 10 plan to reduce hiring and investment, while 78pc expect revenue to fall in the next 12 months, the second worst reading on record. More than half plan to reduce costs to help repair balance sheets, according to the survey, which included FTSE 100 and 250 finance directors. 

Ian Stewart, the chief economist at Deloitte, warned companies were “expecting a long haul back”. 

A rising number of manufacturers have warned they are planning to cut jobs. Make UK, the industry body, called on the Government to extend the furlough scheme for strategic sectors after finding that half of factories planned to make redundancies in the next six months.