Duncan James, head of family business at Shakespeare Martineau
Law firm Shakespeare Martineau hosted a roundtable at Lumbers Jewellers in Leicester to discuss the implications of Brexit for family businesses.
The event, which hosted 20 business owners, discussed the issues of immigration, HR, European supply chains, as well as financial resilience and regulatory controls in a post-Brexit Britain.
Additionally, Shakespeare Martineau released the insights from its recent family business research.
Surveying 100 family business owners, the research revealed that more than three-quarters (82%) of family businesses were optimistic that the UK is strong enough to be independent in the future – significantly higher than any other type of business surveyed.
Debating the statistics throughout the roundtable, the event contingent agreed that Brexit was ‘just another bump in the road’ and recognised the need to get on with businesses.
Overwhelmingly, the view shared by most attendees was that Brexit will inevitably happen in some shape, way or form but it is a hurdle that will be dealt with just like other obstacles family businesses encounter.
Despite the confidence to tackle the changes posed by Brexit, family businesses recognised the challenges that the future holds.
Two-thirds (67%) state that losing access to the single market will be detrimental to business operations, in particular, due to the rising cost of imports from the EU.
Family businesses are calling for a reduction in red tape to stimulate growth and encourage investment in the UK on a local and national scale, with 75% agreeing it will be crucial to future economic success.
Additionally, recognising the need to bridge the skills gap post-2019, 59% of family businesses stated that maintaining a flow of workers into the UK would be essential.
Duncan James, head of family business at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, said: “With family businesses representing almost two-thirds of the private sector and just over 25% of the UK economy, they play a crucial role in the future prosperity of the nation and being able to navigate and use Brexit to their advantage will most certainly stand them in good stead.
“Above all else, the roundtable event showed the steely determination and confidence of local family businesses to just get on with the job in hand.
“They understand the challenges that lie ahead and will approach Brexit in the same way as other obstacles they face – through grit, determination, honest and frank communications and keeping their finger on the pulse of upcoming changes.
“However, our research indicates that family businesses are the least likely segment of the UK business community to have analysed their trading possibilities or audit their workforce requirements and it is essential that scenario planning must take place now in order to ensure a smoother transition and a readiness to react in future.”
Dominic Gomersall, managing director at Lumbers Ltd, said: “We are proud of being a family business in Leicester since the 1880s and we enjoyed hosting such an informative morning with such important local businesses and John Redwood.
“The insight gained will ensure that we plan for Brexit in a way that will minimise any negativity that may be created.
“However, we are a positive business and believe Leicestershire and the East Midlands to be strong enough to navigate Brexit with ease.”