The majority of middle market businesses in the North West are most prepared for an EU-exit, according to a new YouGov survey, the Brexit Monitor, commissioned by leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM.
The survey of more than 300 UK mid-market companies with a turnover between £30-£300m across a range of key sectors, found that over two thirds (71 per cent) of North West businesses who responded are prepared for the UK leaving the EU, the highest amongst regions in Great Britain.
The majority (95 per cent) of North West companies reported they had taken measures such as expanding or preparing to expand into non-EU markets (45 per cent); increasing productivity and efficiency (42 per cent); and reviewing the status of EU workers and EU supplier contracts (37 per cent). Over a quarter (26 per cent) said they planned to move some operations outside of the UK, while 13 per cent said they had established, or would look to establish, EU subsidiaries or branches.
Over half (55 per cent) of the North West respondents thought that an EU-exit would have a negative impact on the UK economy in the next five years, compared to 32 per cent taking a positive view.
This compared to 55 per cent of London businesses who were positive about the economic impact and just 37 per cent negative – highlighting a difference in opinion in the North West and the capital.
Over a third (39 per cent) saw new domestic markets as a current strategic objective. In addition, 29 per cent were positive about current regulation and legislation and over a quarter (26 per cent) viewed technology as a positive part of their strategic plans. Key concerns were a fall or slowdown in demand in existing markets (29 per cent); political change (26 per cent); exchange rates (24 per cent); and domestic competition (24 per cent).
Jill Jones, RSM’s regional managing partner in the North West, said: ‘Entering into one of the most uncertain and volatile operating environments since the global financial crash, middle market businesses in the North West appear to be taking a cautious view of the future. However, it is encouraging to see North West businesses are on the front foot and preparing for change to ensure the region is well placed to succeed post Brexit.
‘The findings show that decision makers in the North West are unsure whether the UK will adapt and emerge from Brexit stronger. Whether this view will change during the course of the negotiations remains to be seen, but initial signs highlight a wary approach.’