West Midlands firms to increase exports beyond Europe

Tom Pickthorn, head of international at Mills & Reeve.

West Midlands firms to increase exports beyond Europe

Mid-market businesses in the West Midlands are preparing for a post-Brexit UK by looking beyond Europe to shore up their future success.

This is according to the Defying Gravity study conducted by national law firm Mills & Reeve.

The study is based on the opinions of 500 leaders of medium-sized businesses in the UK and reveals that West Midlands mid-market businesses remain confident about their growth prospects.

This is despite the continued uncertainty surround Brexit, with many businesses overhauling their strategies.

More than half (58%) of mid-market business leaders plan to increase investment in exports beyond the EU in response to Brexit.

The research reveals that mid-market businesses are feeling bullish despite the unstable landscape, with half of all mid-market firms planning to increase turnover this financial year by over 20%.

However, mid-market businesses are facing some serious challenges and many are already feeling the repercussions of the Brexit vote.

Nearly half (44%) of West Midlands businesses report falling demand and just over half (52%) have experienced increased issues with late payment following the referendum result in 2016.

Whatever the outcome, businesses are preparing for tough times ahead with 44% expecting the administrative burden of regulatory or legislative change to cost their business significant time and money.

There are also fears of increased talent shortages once Britain leaves the EU with 58% of company leaders believe that the UK’s departure from the EU poses a serious threat to recruitment and retention of specialists.

Steve Allen, head of Mills & Reeve’s Birmingham office, said of the study: “Although Britain has not yet made its exit from the EU, mid-market businesses have been feeling the effects of Brexit since the referendum results were announced.

“Our research shows, however, that business leaders are finding ways to meet the challenge and actively adjusting their strategies to deal with the fallout.

“Despite current uncertainties surrounding Brexit, it’s encouraging to see leaders remaining buoyant and setting their sights high for the future.

“This confident but flexible approach will help mid-market businesses keep their position as the driving force of the British economy.”

Tom Pickthorn, head of international at Mills & Reeve, added: “The fact that so many mid-market businesses are keen to increase their investments in exports beyond the EU in response to Brexit is very encouraging.

“Future economic growth will be driven by emerging market economies rather than European countries, so businesses that are willing to look further afield can expect to be rewarded for their efforts.

“Although Brexit is presenting challenges, it may also be prompting an important expansion of horizons. This is good news for the mid-market, and good news for the UK as a whole.”