As the process of divorcing the UK from the EU begins, a new survey has outlined what small and mid size businesses are hoping the UK team will achieve – and access to the single market is by far the most important issue.
Private equity house ECI partners commissioned the research and found that Britain’s ‘gazelles’ – those companies growing at rates well in excess of average growth – overwhelmingly (82%) want the Government to prioritise continued access to the European single market in the upcoming Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
In addition to this, 69% fear economic downturn post referendum while the number of firms finding it hard to access finance has doubled from last year to 51%. In more positive news, however, 67% expect to increase revenues over the next 12 months, with 43% anticipating double digit growth.
‘Challenging times ahead’
CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn, who wrote the foreword to the survey, said, “The latest ECI Partners growth survey provides a timely reminder of what growth companies need to succeed. As the UK seeks to forge a new relationship with the world, raising the productivity of our economy has never been more important. It is productivity growth that will help spread prosperity outside London and the South East and drive the UK economy through the uncertain times ahead. The success of the UK’s fastest growing firms will be vital in achieving this goal.
“We face challenging times ahead – but there are opportunities as well. The UK remains a vibrant and open nation, and one of the best countries in the world to do business. Now is the time to take advantage of opportunities for productivity growth to make it even better.”
A selection of responses from the survey’s participants reveal that despite the gloomy projections over the impact of Brexit, some UK SMEs are looking at the upside.
Sean Ramsden, CEO of British food wholesaler Ramsden International, said:
“We are an exporter so we have benefited from the fall in the value of sterling. Our hope is that post-Brexit, Britain will be able to negotiate better trade deals with countries like Canada and Australia. We are seeing demand grow at a faster rate in markets outside Europe”
Jonathan Elliott, CEO of price comparison website Make It Cheaper, said:
“I wanted to remain but the decision has been made and we have to be careful not to talk ourselves into recession. I think there’s a lot of EU regulation out there that may have originally been well intended but has been badly executed. It would be good to see the removal of some unnecessary red tape.”
Guy Mucklow, founder of PCA Predict, an address verification service for ecommerce, said:
“Will press ahead with plans to invest in the US and Canada, despite Britain’s decision to leave the EU, but admits it has been costly The fall in the value of sterling since the referendum has added to the costs of funding our US business.
“Another consequence is the likelihood of lower interest rates over the long term and even the possibility of having to pay banks to deposit money with them. It could become a significant cost centre.”