New figures from the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) show that total asset finance new business (primarily leasing and hire purchase) grew by 1% in December 2019, and by 6% in 2019 to reach a record annual total of £35.7 billion.
In December, the IT equipment finance sector continued to report double-digit growth as new business increased by 10% compared with the same month in 2018. By contrast, the commercial vehicle finance and plant and machinery finance sectors reported falls in new business of 2% and 22% respectively, over the same period.
In 2019 as a whole, the commercial vehicle finance and plant and machinery finance sectors reported the strongest growth rates, with new business up by 9% and 5% respectively, compared with 2018.
Geraldine Kilkelly, head of research and chief economist at the FLA, said: “The asset finance industry reached a record level of new business in 2019, despite continued weakness in business investment. Within the overall total, more than £20 billion went to SMEs to fund investment in machinery and equipment, 4% higher than in 2018.
“Key industry sectors benefitted from using asset finance last year, with double-digit growth in new finance provided for construction and manufacturing equipment.”