Grant Thornton: Pandemic drives business model change for UK mid-market firms

The majority (88%) of mid-market businesses in the UK have made fundamental changes to their business model during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research from Grant Thornton’s International Business Report.

Andrew Howie, managing partner in Scotland and head of international at Grant Thornton

The research also found that 50% of firms are planning to continue with the new model going forward, as the pandemic has highlighted areas for longer-term improvement.

Digital transformation was the major change, with 48% of mid-sized businesses identifying they will need to implement more technology within their operation. This was followed by changes to improve their organisational flexibility (41%), improve their crisis management process (36%) and build more resilience in their supply chains (33%).

Less than a third (31%) of UK companies feel optimistic about the outlook of the country’s economy over the next 12 months. This fall in optimism is also impacting revenue expectations with less than a third of UK companies (32%) expecting to see an increase over the next twelve months - the lowest level recorded by the IBR since it launched in 2011. On average, UK firms expect revenues to fall by 11% in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Economic uncertainty was cited as the biggest constraint to growth for the UK mid-market (70%). A shortage of orders (51%) and a shortage of finance (45%) were also highly ranked, both increasing in significance since the second half of 2019 (+12 and +11 percentage points respectively).

Andrew Howie, managing partner in Scotland and head of international at Grant Thornton, said: “The report’s stark findings underline the plethora of challenges facing so many industries. Technology clearly has a major role to play in helping businesses to adapt and weather these headwinds, and it’s no surprise to see digital transformation atop the boardroom priority list.

“If these last few months have provided increased impetus to adopt innovation which results in more sustainable supply chains and efficient business models, we might cite that as one small positive to take from the pandemic.

“The widespread acceptance of video conferencing in lieu of in-person meetings is certainly breaking down the barriers to international trade. A global outlook and entrepreneurial approach will help drive economic recovery and long-term growth for many mid-market businesses.”  

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.

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