Over two-thirds of Britains' leading industrialists think Britain should join the European single currency. Support is substantially up since 1996, when half approved.
These findings emerge from MORI's annual Captains of Industry survey among over 100 main board directors from Britain's largest companies.
Interviewing took place between September and November.
This year the respondents include, among others:
- Sir John Egan - BAA PLC
- John Browne - BP
- Sir Richard Sykes - Glaxo Wellcome PLC
- Charles Miller-Smith - ICI
- Sir Robert Clarke - Thames Water PLC
- Sir Michael Angus - Whitbread PLC
- Sir David Barnes CBE - Zeneca Group PLC
While economic conditions are not perceived to be as promising as they were in previous years, directors continue to be optimistic about their own company's prospects. More than six in ten expect that business will improve over the next 12 months. Manufacturers are the most positive.
As last year, competition, particularly within the financial services sector, is the main issue facing companies. The problem is exacerbated within the manufacturing sector by volatility in currency exchange and the strength of the pound:
Intensity of global competition and instability of exchange rate, it's a complex question. The nation is becoming uncompetitive in terms of the climate that exists for business. Manufacturing, Under 5,000 employees
Over-capacity in Europe and exchange rates. The strength of sterling makes it difficult to sell in Europe. Manufacturing, Under 5,000 employees
Over-saturation of the market. Pressure to bring premiums down. Very fierce competition. Restructuring of industry. Financial / Banking, Over 5,000 employees
Changing to suit the atmosphere - marketing, internal systems, procedures, computer systems or the handling of people. The competition on the high road with similar traders. There's only so much cake to go round. If they do better, they improve their performance and it makes it tougher for us. If they slip, it's easier for us. Services / retailing, Over 5,000 employees
We've just had a 25% increase in sterling against the DM and we're suffering very badly. It's the instability. We need a stable currency. Manufacturing, Under 5,000 employees
Findings from the 1997 version of the annual survey conducted by MORI among Britain's Captains of Industry. The sample was supplied by FT / Extel and covered the top 500 UK companies by turnover and the top 100 financial organisations by capital employed. 160 face-to-face interviews were conducted between September and November 1997 - a response rate of 42%. Over two-thirds (74%) of respondents are Chairmen, Chief Executives or Managing Directors.