Scottish mid-market businesses ‘bullish’ about Brexit

Andrew Howie
Andrew Howie

Scottish mid-market business leaders are bullish about the impact of Brexit, according to new research from business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP.

The company’s research finds that roughly a quarter (24%) of Scottish mid-market business leaders do not expect Brexit to have any impact on their business in the next six months and around a third (32%) believe Brexit will have a positive impact on their business.

The figures come from a Censuswide survey of 642 senior decision makers, including 50 in Scotland, in UK mid-market businesses in the first two weeks of December.

More than half (52%) of Scottish mid-market business leaders said they feel confident in their preparations for the upcoming changes in 2021.

For the next six months, mid-market business leaders are more immediately concerned about the negative impact of ongoing COVID-19 related restrictions to trade and global travel, with 28% saying further lockdown restrictions would be bad for their business, versus 22% for Brexit.

However, with just days to go to the end of the transition period, a significant number of Scottish mid-market business leaders (40%) do not feel confident that their business is ready for the upcoming changes. More than a fifth (22%) say they expect Brexit to have a negative impact on their business in the next six months, while 10% are unsure of the impact it will have at this stage.

The biggest Brexit-related worry for mid-market business leaders is people-related concerns such as recruitment and mobility. This is followed by supply chain disruption and legal and regulatory changes.

Andrew Howie, partner and head of international at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said: “There is a consensus in Scotland that a deal is preferable to a disorderly exit – and also perhaps relief that talk of breaking international law has subsided.

“Businesses are good at dealing with whatever is put in front of them and what’s really important now is getting information to the community about the new arrangements – whatever they are.

“The government is running a high profile Time is Running Out, campaign asking businesses to prepare. That’s fine as far as it goes but not all the detailed information is currently available. The impacts will be felt in a wide range of ways, hitting different sectors, in different ways over different timeframes.”

He added: “All business leaders have spent 2020 fighting the more immediate threats presented by the global pandemic. We see from the data that the big definable problems, such as further restrictions in terms of workplace safety, travel restrictions, people productivity, and looming regulatory changes, are higher up the mid-market leader’s list of potential threats than Brexit.”

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