UK SMEs are optimistic about the future impact of the UK leaving the EU on their business, with a third (33%) believing that Brexit will have a positive impact on their business. The results from OCO Global’s SME Brexit survey also shows that a similar number of SMEs (32%), have already felt a positive impact on their business since the EU referendum.
The SME Brexit survey shows this positivity is greatest amongst those SMEs that are already exporting or have overseas operations. Within this group, over two-fifths (43%), of SMEs that currently export have felt a positive impact, with the same amount expecting this to continue post-Brexit. This contrasts with those businesses not currently operating internationally, with little more than one-in-ten (11%) having felt a positive impact so far, growing to 15% looking at the future.
This positivity is grounded in a noted up-turn in business post the Brexit vote – with 37 per cent of SMEs attracting new customers and contracts since the Brexit vote, while 36 per cent have managed to increase sales with existing customers.
With differing trade arrangements potentially coming into play for goods and services, this may address the disparity in positive outlook between these areas. Over half (53%) of companies operating within Business Services and two-fifths (43%) in the IT sectors are positive about the future. This falls to one in three (34%) for Manufacturing, and only one in five (18%) firms involved in Retail or Wholesale of goods.
The survey also highlights some of the challenges to be addressed across the UK SME population as new trading arrangements are established. Positivity varies significantly based on size of company, with around half (46%) the number of the smallest SMEs showing positive sentiment, compared to that of the largest (30%) companies. Optimism is at its highest in London, with one in two (50%) companies positive about the future, which is more than double that of many other UK regions.
Meanwhile, 27% of SMEs believe that Brexit will be negative for their business, with the same amount for businesses that are exporting and non-exporters.