With 200 days to go until Brexit, over two-fifths (41%) of UK SMEs have not made any preparation for the UK leaving the EU new research from OCO Global has shown.
The levels of preparation are even more stark when comparing businesses that export versus those that operate domestically. Almost three-quarters (73%) of SMEs that currently export have made preparations in their business, while only a third (33%) of domestic-only businesses have sought to get their business in shape.
Gareth Hagan, Executive Director, OCO Global said: “There is a clear divergence between those businesses that are already trading overseas versus those that only operate domestically on preparing for Brexit. Exporting businesses are clearly on the front foot. These SMEs are the businesses that are looking at the challenges and opportunities associated with Brexit and are taking action. However, businesses that only operate domestically are putting their futures at risk by not putting in place measures to protect them from a Brexit fallout.”
Almost two-thirds (64%) of SMEs stated that they had a plan in place for Brexit, however once again there were differences between those that are trading internationally (76%) and domestic (42%) businesses. In preparing their businesses for Brexit, SMEs have focussed their efforts on business development (65%), pricing strategy (60%) and reviewing their current staffing levels (55%). Findings from the Brexit survey also revealed different levels of preparedness across sectors with IT, business services and construction being the most prepared. Meanwhile, the hospitality & leisure, professional services and transport are much less prepared.
With the Government recently launching its new Export Strategy, designed to make the UK a “21stCentury Export Superpower”, businesses have indicated key areas that they need support when trying to export: Access and introductions to potential customers (26%), Market information (22%) and in-market presence and support (22%).
Hagan continued: “The Government has released its guidance papers on a possible ‘no-deal’ but put simply, a no-deal is a no-no. At the same time the new Export Strategy is ambitious and puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of UK businesses. The impact of a no-deal is wider than our trading relationship with the EU. It affects the UK’s relationships elsewhere and puts businesses at a competitive disadvantage when having to trade under WTO rules. Europe is, and will continue to be, the most significant market, and so a deal with the EU that is good for the UK must be the No 1 priority for Theresa May’s Government.”