South: High-growth companies ‘confident they can handle Brexit’

Almost three quarters (70%) of high-growth businesses in the UK are confident in their ability to handle the impacts of Brexit, compared to just half (49%) of lower-growth businesses, according to latest Trailblazers survey commissioned by Santander.

The bi-annual survey of more than 1,000 businesses found that confidence among high-growth companies has increased markedly over the past six months. The proportion of ‘trailblazing’ firms – those which have either grown by 20% over the past year or expect to do so over the next year – who are confident about their growth prospects has increased to 89% from 78% at the start of the year. Confidence for lower-growth businesses stands as just 41% – an increase from 38%.

Trailblazers’ confidence in their future prospects is reflected in their willingness to take risks to secure growth opportunities (70% compared to 44% of lower-growth firms) as well as enter new markets (63% compared to 37%). 

The research also found that Trailblazers are more likely to view investment in research and development and upskilling their staff as key drivers of business growth. Over half (53%) have increased R&D investment in the past three years, compared to 28% of low-growth businesses, while two thirds (63%) have increased investment in training and development compared with 30% of lower growth businesses. The most common reason for Trailblazers to invest (60%) is to recruit new talent.

Sean Longsdale, managing director, Structured Finance, Santander Corporate & Commercial, said:“This research confirms what we’ve been hearing from leaders of high growth businesses, who tell us they don’t see Brexit as a blocker to their ambitions, but as just another hurdle to clear. However, while it’s positive to see that the UK’s most thriving businesses are confident about their future prospects, it’s a real concern that many companies already experiencing growth challenges feel unprepared for Brexit. It’s vital that we ensure that all types of businesses are well prepared for Brexit and ready to grab the opportunities that are out there for British goods and services across international markets.”

To help small and medium sized businesses prepare for Brexit and beyond, Santander has run a series of workshops focused on the practical implications of Brexit, including a change in the UK-EU trading relationship.